(This is one of a series of articles looking at elements of iTunes that I think need fixing. I’ll choose one element for each article, and offer a solution. See all articles in this series. If you have any particular gripes about what needs to be fixed in iTunes, drop me a line.)
When iTunes Match was first released in November, 2011, people already judged Apple’s 25,000 track limit (for match tracks; purchased tracks are unlimited) to be stingy. Sure, not everyone has a large music library, but the 1% of iTunes users who do are the prime demographic for this service, and they were immediately judged nebula non grata.
More than three years later, that limit is becoming a problem for many music lovers. If you have a lot of CDs, or buy a lot of music, it’s pretty easy to hit that limit, as you rip and match more of your CD collection. It’s especially problematic for those with large classical libraries; many classical box sets contain 50 or more CDs, swelling the size of a music library very quickly.
Apple needs to increase this limit, if only to keep up with the competition. Google Play Music has just increased their limits from 20,000 to 50,000 tracks, and it’s free. Amazon’s Cloud Player lets you store 250,000 tracks, for the same price ($25) as iTunes Match.
Arguably, these are different types of services. iTunes Match matches your music, so you don’t have to upload it all; if I had to upload my music library, it would take years. And iTunes Match updates quickly from iTunes, whenever you add or delete music. Amazon and Google are merely music lockers, where you upload all your music, and play it when you want.
Apple clearly needs to increase the iTunes Match limit. Unless they’re planning on dropping the service, they need to follow the needs of users, and more and more people have been emailing me recently asking how they can deal with an iTunes Match library that is approaching the limit. (It’s not always simple to deal with.) Perhaps Apple can charge more for a higher limit; or perhaps they can just increase the current limit. Or maybe they could finally allow users to choose which of their tracks get uploaded to iTunes Match. But 25,000 tracks, which may be a lot for the majority of users, isn’t enough for serious music fans.