Have you been banned by iTunes Match?

“Among the problems with iTunes Match is that 25,000 limit for your $24.99 annual fee. If you have a larger music library, as some do, particularly those who have been collecting music for several decades, Apple will not just offer you a better package at a higher price,” Gene Steinberg writes for Tech Night Owl. “You can’t just pick and choose which songs in your iTunes library will be matched to keep under that limit. You’ll just be shut out.”

“This is a curious move, since it shouldn’t be so difficult from a programming standpoint to establish a hard-coded limit to the number of matched tunes, so those with larger music libraries can join up and make their own decisions which songs to exclude,” Steinberg writes. “Of course, the music companies, who had to approve this grand scheme, might have decreed that there shall be a 25,000 song limit, and take it or leave it. So Apple took it, but that’s simply a guess.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. I think it’s best for serious record collectors to avoid iTunes. It’s fine for normal people, but I’ve had numerous irreplaceable 1920s/1930s tracks – unissued and unavailable anywhere since the 20s – destroyed by an iTunes upgrade, so I intend to keep them on a separate iMac which will not be upgraded. Ever.

    1. Other than the fact that your ” irreplaceable 1920s/1930s tracks” didn’t originate from iTunes (therefore the originals are available from the same source you ripped them from), for 30 years (or more), you’ve been told to “back up your data”.

      Data loss is your fault, not iTunes, not anyone else’s. Man up and quit blaming everyone and everything else.

    2. Why can’t you use Time Machine or manually copying these files to an external drive using the Finder? With the latter, if an iTunes upgrade goes bad you can just re-import them into iTunes.

      You cannot rely on a single piece of hardware to keep irreplaceable files for you.

        1. An inexpensive 2GB USB 2.0 external drive for Time Machine would easily handle 60,000 song files. My current iTunes music library has about 6000 items, and that only takes up about 40GB of space. So 60,000 would need about 400GB, leaving plenty of space for backing up everything else too.

        2. Redundant RAID can be compromised too. One serious 10.7.2 crash did directory damage that prevented my external eSATA RAID from mounting. Even a DiskWarrior repair of the parent Mac’s damaged directory structure didn’t allow the external RAID drive to be mounted. I finally recovered it by reconnecting the array via USB on another Mac. After that, it mysteriously started working again when reconnected to the original Mac via eSATA. The entire troubleshooting process took hours, a scary period during which I thought my data was hosed.

          Now, even the redundant array is backed up to yet another hard drive. But I still haven’t implemented off-site storage.

        3. 60,000? seems a little hard to believe you have access to that much music. I think you’re just going for the world’s largest library. you can’t possibly know what you have.

    3. > but I’ve had numerous irreplaceable 1920s/1930s tracks – unissued and unavailable anywhere since the 20s – destroyed by an iTunes upgrade

      Wow. There were digital “tracks” issued in the 20s…? 🙂

      iTunes may have corrupted your iTunes library file (the database that tracks your music and supporting data such as playlists), but the actual song files are still there. At worst, you would create a new iTunes library and re-add everything. It is more likely that a general hard drive failure (or data corruption) caused the problem, if the files were lost. And for something this is “irreplaceable,” you need to BACK UP, which you should do for all of your precious user data, not just your song files.

      I had a self-inflicted problem a few years ago. After a major upgrade of iTunes, it appeared to lock up during launch. It was actually updating my iTunes library file, due to the iTunes update (and taking a few minutes to do it). Not thinking, I did a force quit, and that corrupted my iTunes library file. When i relaunched iTunes, it opened to a brand new music library with nothing in it. However, all my actual song files were still there; I just dragged the folder that contained them all to the iTunes window to add them to the new music library. It was a pain, because I lost all my playlists and other info, such as play count and ratings, but the songs were safe.

      If that had happened today, I would just use Time Machine to restore the iTunes library file to just before the problem occurred. Then, when I started iTunes, I would let it do its thing and finish updating the library database file. (Even if I lost the actual song files because my hard drive died, I would restore them using Time Machine.)

        1. I was just making fun of the overly dramatic way it was written.

          “It’s fine for normal people, but I’ve had numerous irreplaceable 1920s/1930s tracks – unissued and unavailable anywhere since the 20s…”

          > Whats wrong, they reissue them on Record, CD whatever. They get ripped into iTunes.

          So, if someone happens to lose digital music files because they don’t have a backup and their hard drive crashes, then re-rip or convert them from the original source again. It’s not like the iTunes monster emerged from the Mac late one night and physically “destroyed” the original media.

    4. Apple makes products and services for the masses…, if you are at the extremes at either end their stuff may not be for you…. 100,000 song … iTines may not work for you…, 10, 000 songs … It works perfectly…. Old music that took a long time to digitize… I would not trust to any file service with out a back up , iTunes included….my “normal” old music selections… No problem…. So what is the moral here… Apple is the best at serving the largest number of users possible… Just not everyone.

    5. data is fleeting, 1 solar flare and all your stuff is gone
      don’t rely on anything digital
      possessions like photo albums are the same
      more crap for the grandkids to burn\throw away

  2. Here’s an idea: Apple is trying to keep things manageable when they first introduce a service. Once all the bugs are stamped out, then things can be opened up to the heavy users.

  3. Google is offering storage of 20,000 songs FREE, with an unlimited amount of storage for Google Music purchased tracks just like iTunes. So why exactly is Apple charging $24.99?

    1. Because Apple is also allowing you to update any tracks that are in it’s library to non-DRM 256kbps. Google is just taking any of your 96-128 kbps files and uploading as-is.

    2. It’s not just about the service and the cost to operate it. There’s also the need to get a NEW licensing agreement from all major record labels (ALL content creators). Apple is basically giving “amnesty” to users who have a music library they accumulated illegally, through Napster in the old days and current file sharing. iTunes Match turns those illegal files (if the same song is in the iTunes Store catalog) into legal ones at higher quality. The legal right for Apple provide this “music laundering” service probably did not come cheap.

      Google is just “storing” songs you already have or new ones you buy. The $25 Apple charges is not just for storing files, it is also for the “matching” service. I’m sure a large part of that $25 annual fee goes toward the deal Apple struck with the “studios” to make iTunes Match legally possible.

    3. Uploading to Google Music is too slow to work. I left a computer on for 2 weekends in a row uploading music to it, and in all that time it only uploaded 3,000 of my 9,000 songs. I gave up after that.

    4. From the a WSJ article today:
      “But Google users that click +1 may not be aware that Google is using it to target ads at some of their Gmail connections, which could prove a privacy concern.
      Google considers clicking the +1 button a “public action” so doesn’t view sharing that information as a privacy issue.
      With Web surfers sharing more information online every day, it’s perhaps inevitable it will be used for advertising. But privacy concerns could impede growth if the likes of Facebook and Google don’t tread carefully.”
      Full article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203764804577060521083951862.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read
      goog sucks

  4. This discussion’s been going on for like ten years now. iTunes is a mess, its database is prone to accidents, and NO, the original files are NOT ‘still there’. Having to monitor a 40.000+ song library continuously for on average 200-300 missing files is a real pain in the ass. Backing up data is just damage control. not a solution.
    That said, it seems the latest versions of iTunes are doing a lot better. Last time iTunes deleted files on it’s own on my computers is about 6 months ago. Hurray!

    1. YES. the files are still there. If you can’t locate them find a bud who knows how to recover.
      “..backing up is just damage control…” If anyone is beyond backing up, then all I can say is good luck.

  5. I think it’s important to note that the 25,000 song limit only applies to music that was not purchased via iTunes. So, you can have a 100,000 song library of which less than 25,000 were procured outside of iTunes and you’ll be able to use iTunes Match.

    I have a music collection of 60,000 songs (only 1,000 songs purchased via iTunes). I used iTunes Match as an opportunity to prune my library down. I really only listen to a small number of songs relative to the size of my library. I now have my library down to 20,000 song and I must say it’s almost more valuable to me. I can now put it on shuffle and know I’m going to get a good song.

    I still have my entire collection backed up to and external drive as well as to Amazon (if you buy a $20 storage plan you can store an unlimited amount of music; smoking deal in my opinion).

    I know this may not be ideal for everyone but I’m very happy with the outcome and absolutely love iTunes Match.

  6. iTunes Match is pretty amazing. It’s another example of Apple “magic.”

    I had a LARGE amount of music from CDs that I ripped, back when Apple’s iTunes “standard” was originally 160 kbps MP3 and later 128 kbps AAC. I’ve wanted to re-rip them at 256 kbps AAC, but was too lazy to dig out the CDs and go through the process. iTunes Match does it automatically, for most of these songs.

    After iTunes Match finishes “analyzing,” the old inferior quality songs are still the original files that you had. But if iCloud Status is shown as “Matched” for a particular song, you can just delete it (and its file) from iTunes. But the song remains listed in your iTunes music library, with a small download button appearing next to it. Click that button, and a new copy is downloaded from “the cloud.” And that new file is a 256 kbps AAC file that Apple sells in the iTunes Store.

    Also, I have a good amount of music that I purchased through iTunes Store, back when the standard was 128 kbps AAC with DRM. For some of my favorites, I paid 30¢ per song to upgrade them to “iTunes Plus” (current 256 kbps no DRM standard), but most were still in the old format.

    I gathered them all using a simple sort on Kind (“Protected AAC audio file”). I deleted them all, and re-downloaded from iCloud. Converted, at no extra cost. A small percentage of files did not convert, which confused me at first, but it was because some songs are no longer being sold in the iTunes Store (so I got back the old 128 kbps file). This part alone is worth well over $25.

    1. How much data does iTunes Match need for non-iTunes-bought files? I’m assuming ones you ripped off a disc would be matched just fine, but how much metadata do I need to tag my Napster and Limewire obtained files with to get iTunes to match them?

      1. You don’t have to tag or change anything. iTunes Match seems to actually compare the music, not the supporting “metadata.” That’s the part that seems “magical” to me, because it does not take very long per song.

        So, for example, if you had a song that you thought was by the Beatles (and it is listed that way in your iTunes library), but it was actually by the Monkees, iTunes Match would still find the match (if it’s in the iTunes Store catalog). And when you download it, iTunes Match does not alter your iTunes data for that song, so you would not even know about the misidentification. The iTunes listing would still look the same as before (except for “type” information about the file itself).

        The name of the song in your iTunes library does not even need to be correct. For example, the Star Wars “Main Title” could be called “Star Wars Theme,” and it would match.

        1. Oh, and as further confirmation that it compares the actually music and not the identification data…

          I also have a fair amount of songs converted from analog (music tapes and vinyl LPs). These were “played” into my Mac and digitized using GarageBand, then manually edited and exported (“shared”) as 256 kbps AAC into my iTunes library.

          I had the identification data perfect in those songs, but they did NOT match (not even one). This is probably because, as analog recordings, they do not precisely match the digital recordings. There is background hiss and recording rate (how fast the record player spins) is not precise, compared to the digital version.

          When I rip a music CD, that is a completely digital process, so the resulting song files are precise (enough) for a match (in most cases). There are a few cases where a song that came from a CD rip did not match, even though other songs from that same CD did match. Not sure why… maybe the publisher “remixed” a song after the CD I have was released, and that newer version is currently sold in iTunes Store.

  7. For me the sticking point, the one reason I won’t use iTunes Match is not the 20,000 song limit; I have around 9000 songs ripped and bought in my library. No, it’s the 256Kb limit. Every song I have that’s ripped, probably 90 %, are 360Kb. I listen on my phone and iPod through high-end Ultimate Ears IEM’s (in-ear monitors), so a retrograde step to a poorer quality file is unacceptable.

    1. And there are probably others who would scoff at your 360 kbps. Maybe THEY would insist on “lossless.” Apple used to sell 128 kbps files (with DRM), and most people could not tell the difference or did not care, making Apple the largest music retailer in U.S.

      For me, the beauty of iTunes Match is, if Apple decides to up the sound quality level to “360” or higher, I can re-download all songs that match, at no extra cost (above the $25 per year). I had a good amount of songs that were purchased when iTunes Store sold 128 kbps files. They are now (mostly) 256 kbps through iTunes Match.

  8. I be been collecting music for decades and am well under 20g. (17900). Anyone in 25k plus territory is an edge case and no one size fits all system like the ones Apple implements are worth modifying for edge cases.

  9. I haven’t been banned by iTunes, but there is a golf course next to a girlfriend I had 30 years ago that we are still not welcomed at.
    (I guess the terms ‘hole in one, putter, 7 wood’, and the number ‘4’ mean something different to them….)

  10. From what I’ve read elsewhere, no one has been “banned” from iTunes Match. That is just inflammatory drivel. There are numerous articles on the internet describing how to create a new iTunes Library and choose the songs to include in your iTunes Match upload to get around the problem with libraries containing more than 25K tracks. All the complainers should consider learning how to read.

  11. What keeps me from spending the bucks on iTunes Match is the limitation to songs available from the iTunes Store. A significant portion of my iTunes library is made up of bootleg live recordings.

    1. I’ve got a ton of bootlegs, including hundreds of Dead concerts. There was only a handful of my bootlegs that didn’t upload. If it doesn’t match, then it’s uploaded as is. So, this obstacle you see with iTunes Match doesn’t really exist. Unless, of course, you’re over the 25,000 limit.

      As a note, many of my live bootlegs are just ripped as one long song essentially (i.e. the Dead jammimg non-stop for an entire second set), thus cutting back on the number of total songs for upload.

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