iTunes Match and Metadata

iTunes Match is (reasonably) popular, we've ripped collections for several clients who use this aspect of Apple's music portfolio.

If you're not familiar with it this enables you to backup your music collection to the cloud, namely Apple's various servers, then stream your music from there to other devices. The cost is pretty modest. Match is an early streaming service, you can pay more for the current option Apple is promoting which also gives you access to their music library. You could say Match is just your music, the new product is old plus new.

Why Match?

The name reflects the way the service operates. When you sign up iTunes scans your music library to find what you have and tries to match it with what they have in iTunes Music Store. If it finds two albums that are the same then it instantly gives you streaming access to the copy already on their servers. Even if you have a sub 256 kbps AAC format you get what Apple boasts is a better version. Key thing, no data upload is involved.

I imagine Apple are hoping the 80 - 20 rule applies, that 80% of your albums match what they have already meaning that only 20% needs the laborious process of uploading from your computer to their system.

Data Grooming & Match

As standard Apple's metadata is pretty average, which is why we developed our
Data Grooming facility. However if we were to go to all that trouble of improving the album name, artist details, composer names etc would there be any point if the Match process promptly over-writes it all when you try to sync? Looking across the web several people have said, in their experience, Match doesn't touch edited metadata. From my own tests it doesn't either.

I was very pleased when one of our clients was prepared to test this out with his Match account. We looked at a representative number of album names, composer fields and some other data which we knew might clash with Apple's which is taken from Gracenotes. Once uploaded he was able to confirm the modified metadata remained in tact, right down to us replacing Apple's preferred square brackets with ordinary round brackets.

So there. Conclusion - you can mix Match with great metadata via Data Grooming and end up with a smile on your face.