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An Open Letter to Apple Regarding iTunes Match

By ; November 15, 2011 at 12:30 PM 

Dear Apple,

When you introduced iTunes Match at the Worldwide Developer Conference in June, it was hailed by many (myself included) as the future of music storage and distribution. The business model is ingenious: for a reasonable fee, the songs in your iTunes library that weren’t purchased from your store would be treated as if they were, and could be downloaded on any iOS device tied to your Apple ID. As an iPhone and iPad owner with a large collection of non-iTunes-purchased music, I was all in.

Well, as it turns out, the “large collection of non-iTunes-purchased music” part of that is a bit of a non-starter. When I went to enable iTunes Match on Monday, I was told that I could not use the service because I have more than 25,000 externally acquired files in my library. Having too large a music collection made me unable to give you money for a service you provide that’s aimed specifically at people who don’t buy the majority of their music on iTunes.

There was no option to choose up to 25,000 songs from my library to upload into the cloud. I could have more than lived with that. There was also no option to purchase extra space. If you wanted to charge $50 or even $100 per year (rather than $25) for a version of iTunes Match that allowed for unlimited songs to be stored, I’d pay it. But for the crime of having too much music, I and others like me are completely shut out of what is clearly an exciting and valuable product.

I know what you’ll say. We should start buying more of our music on iTunes, so as not to have it count against the 25,000-song limit. But there will always be those who like to own physical copies of their favorite albums, as well as those who want their personal library to be of higher quality than the 256kbps files you sell. I have a dedicated two-terabyte external hard drive for my music library, and the vast majority of my CDs are ripped in Apple Lossless. If you’re willing to start selling lossless music in the iTunes store, we’ll talk. As it is, I shouldn’t have to limit the amount of music I keep on my computer at the quality I want just to be able to use iTunes Match.

There are workarounds for the issue, but they’re clunky and not very convenient. MacWorld suggests creating a second library for iTunes Match, which just seems like it takes a lot of energy that could be spent on other things like, I don’t know, appreciating a wide variety of music on several different iOS devices using iTunes Match. Plus, if I did that and then you offered an option to use iTunes Match with a larger library at a later date, I’d be forced to pay for the service twice.

I’m incredibly excited about iTunes Match and the possibilities it presents for the way we consume music. I just think you’re making a mistake by shutting out those of us with large volumes of music, those of us who could maybe use the service more than anyone. I hope we’re able to come to an understanding about this. I want to give you my money for this thing. If only you’d let me.



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