The Real Difference Between iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library: DRM

The whole iTunes Match and Apple Music thing is confusing. Apple says they are “independent but complementary,” and, on first glance, they look quite similar. But when you look closely, they are very different.

Both match your iTunes library and store your purchases. Both allow you to access these files, and listen to them, on multiple devices. But with iTunes Match, when you download a matched or uploaded file, you get either the iTunes Store matched copy, or the copy that iTunes uploaded of your original file.

When you match and download files from iCloud Music Library (without having an iTunes Match subscription), however, you get files with DRM; the same kind of files you get when you download files from Apple Music for offline listening. (These files should have DRM, so you can’t just download and keep all the music you want for $10 a month.) But if you’re using Apple Music, and not iTunes Match, Apple doesn’t make a distinction between which files were originally yours, and which you downloaded for offline listening from Apple Music.

This means that if you’ve matched your library with Apple Music and iCloud Music Library, you need to keep backups of your original files. If not, you’ll end up with files that you can’t play without an Apple Music subscription.

So think carefully if you plan to use iCloud Music Library.

Update: iTunes Match wasn’t working for me earlier today. It has started working now, and it’s even more of a mess.

Here’s an album that I ripped, and that was in the cloud through iTunes Match.

Eno drop

Previously, all the tracks showed as Matched. Now, most of them show iCloud Status as Apple Music. If I download one of them, and look at the file, it is a protected file with DRM (FairPlay version 2 is the version of Apple’s DRM scheme):

Slip dip

Update 2: It’s gotten even worse for me. I’ve tried signing out of my account, and signing back in again, but I still see many of my tracks showing the iCloud Status as Apple Music. And this is now also affecting purchased tracks.

In response to a comment, I copied a download, which shows that it has FairPlay DRM, to another Mac, and here’s what I see when I try to play the file in iTunes:

Drmed file

248 thoughts on “The Real Difference Between iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library: DRM

  1. @Locutus – thats a bit of an issue then, hopefully Apple can patch that to cure it. I don’t mind Apple matching up my tracks and making it where I’ve potentially got a better quality version of the song – but I would like it clearly outlined which are tracks that are part of their streaming service. Thats why i’ve liked Deezer and Spotify in the last year, because i’ve used them just for streaming. If i like an album that i’ve streamed then i’ll go and purchase it for my iTunes and bang its there – 2 completely seperate entities that don’t conflict with each other.

    Obviously, i’ve got all my local music downloaded so i’ll never lose that – but whats to say that because the matched files have been overwritten in my Library, that apple can’t add DRM to them so technically unless you keep your subscription going – you lose years and years of music that you’ve built up? That may not be the case but what happens if it actually did.

    I’ve maybe going off on a tangent….

    • There is no confirmation when you click the “Remove Download” option so it’s quite possible to accidentally delete your local files and get stuck with DRM versions.

      • Exactly it isn’t clear – Its lucky I took a backup of all my music a month back, but think i might take a separate copy tonight as well as all my XML data incase anything goes belly up. Also think i need a good couple of hours to really get my head round it all.

        On a side note – i love the functionality on the iPad, the fact you can have your whole library on your iPad when in view of a WiFi – as well as downloading offline versions of Apple Music tracks. Going to be really handy when i go on Holiday – Its just the iTunes part that is frustrating me atm.

  2. @Locutus – thats a bit of an issue then, hopefully Apple can patch that to cure it. I don’t mind Apple matching up my tracks and making it where I’ve potentially got a better quality version of the song – but I would like it clearly outlined which are tracks that are part of their streaming service. Thats why i’ve liked Deezer and Spotify in the last year, because i’ve used them just for streaming. If i like an album that i’ve streamed then i’ll go and purchase it for my iTunes and bang its there – 2 completely seperate entities that don’t conflict with each other.

    Obviously, i’ve got all my local music downloaded so i’ll never lose that – but whats to say that because the matched files have been overwritten in my Library, that apple can’t add DRM to them so technically unless you keep your subscription going – you lose years and years of music that you’ve built up? That may not be the case but what happens if it actually did.

    I’ve maybe going off on a tangent….

    • There is no confirmation when you click the “Remove Download” option so it’s quite possible to accidentally delete your local files and get stuck with DRM versions.

      • Exactly it isn’t clear – Its lucky I took a backup of all my music a month back, but think i might take a separate copy tonight as well as all my XML data incase anything goes belly up. Also think i need a good couple of hours to really get my head round it all.

        On a side note – i love the functionality on the iPad, the fact you can have your whole library on your iPad when in view of a WiFi – as well as downloading offline versions of Apple Music tracks. Going to be really handy when i go on Holiday – Its just the iTunes part that is frustrating me atm.

  3. Why is this considered a short-coming of Apple Music? If you think about it, this is exactly how it should work. When you are subscribed to iCloud Music Library, and your DRM-free songs that you own are uploaded to iCloud, the only time you need to download a new copy is if you deleted the local song file, or if you want it on a new computer. Apple Music should NEVER give you a DRM-free song if you deleted it locally. It’s intentionally NOT Apple Music’s job to back up your song files, that’s what iTunes Match is for (and basically the point of your article).

    Think of it this way, for a user that is not subscribed to any service… If they delete a DRM-free song from their local library, it’s gone forever. Tough luck. If the user subscribed to Apple Music, then this service will allow them to *rent* the song again by downloading it, the basic idea for all songs downloaded from Apple Music. If the user is subscribed iTunes Match however, then Match would have backed up their original song file which can be downloaded again DRM-free.

    I think everything you point out in this article is a true fact, and I agree with it all and thank you for pointing it out. It helped me understand the difference. However I disagree with the expectations and complaints against Apple Music, and the fear it will destroy everyones music library. You do NOT need to backup your music collection now just because of Apple Music which is out to destroy your collection (you should do it anyway if you care about it).

    Just don’t delete songs that you still want to own, which was always the case 🙂

    • I agree…

      Apple Music is not a backup service… It’s a rental facility…It will not mess up your existing files (they will remain DRM free)… The internet blows up everything out of proportion…

      iTunes Match is a backup service and hence it still exists… I would still keep my original files locally backed up as well… It’s just common sense…

      • There definitely appears to be a bug which is affecting iTunes Match users and bringing back incorrect files with DRM. I was discussing the points in the article before the updates about the bug. There seems to be misconception regarding Apple Music, and to be honest Apple is to blame. They haven’t done a great job explaining the detailed difference between the two services, even on their own FAQ/support pages.

  4. Why is this considered a short-coming of Apple Music? If you think about it, this is exactly how it should work. When you are subscribed to iCloud Music Library, and your DRM-free songs that you own are uploaded to iCloud, the only time you need to download a new copy is if you deleted the local song file, or if you want it on a new computer. Apple Music should NEVER give you a DRM-free song if you deleted it locally. It’s intentionally NOT Apple Music’s job to back up your song files, that’s what iTunes Match is for (and basically the point of your article).

    Think of it this way, for a user that is not subscribed to any service… If they delete a DRM-free song from their local library, it’s gone forever. Tough luck. If the user subscribed to Apple Music, then this service will allow them to *rent* the song again by downloading it, the basic idea for all songs downloaded from Apple Music. If the user is subscribed iTunes Match however, then Match would have backed up their original song file which can be downloaded again DRM-free.

    I think everything you point out in this article is a true fact, and I agree with it all and thank you for pointing it out. It helped me understand the difference. However I disagree with the expectations and complaints against Apple Music, and the fear it will destroy everyones music library. You do NOT need to backup your music collection now just because of Apple Music which is out to destroy your collection (you should do it anyway if you care about it).

    Just don’t delete songs that you still want to own, which was always the case 🙂

    • I agree…

      Apple Music is not a backup service… It’s a rental facility…It will not mess up your existing files (they will remain DRM free)… The internet blows up everything out of proportion…

      iTunes Match is a backup service and hence it still exists… I would still keep my original files locally backed up as well… It’s just common sense…

      • There definitely appears to be a bug which is affecting iTunes Match users and bringing back incorrect files with DRM. I was discussing the points in the article before the updates about the bug. There seems to be misconception regarding Apple Music, and to be honest Apple is to blame. They haven’t done a great job explaining the detailed difference between the two services, even on their own FAQ/support pages.

  5. There is definitely a bug though, which *can* add DRM, and logging out and logging back in is NOT solving it. I am an iTunes Match subscriber, and I’ve retained most of the local copies of tracks on the laptop where I am experiencing this bug.

    Here’s what happens:

    If I have a local track in my library that is “Matched,” and then I subscribe to an Apple Music playlist that happens to include that same track… iTunes changes the “iCloud Status” of that track to “Apple Music.” That’s a problem. It should leave it as “Matched.”

    This happens consistently. even though the track’s entry in iTunes is linked to, and references, an .M4A (AAC) or .MP3 file I have in the Finder. And then if I delete that file from iTunes, and re-download it from the cloud, it is replaced by an (Apple Music) .M4P file.

    Simply subscribing to an Apple Music playlist that happens to overlap content with a track (or tracks) I already own, is changing their iCloud Status to “Apple Music” and removing my ownership. Even if I later unsubscribe from/delete that Apple Music playlist, the track in question remains in my library now labelled as an “Apple Music” file. Later syncs/downloads aren’t coming from iTunes Match or the Store — they are coming from Apple Music.

    If you have subscribed to a bunch of Apple Music Playlists (as I have,) here’s an easy way to determine if any of your local/owned/Matched tracks have been replaced inappropriately by Apple Music tracks:

    http://i.imgur.com/zEP9l4n.png

    • To fofur – are you using a Mac? I assume so as this is a mac site? I am using Windows ITunes and I just tested what you wrote above and for me it’s ok. I added an Apple Music playlist which contained a couple of songs that I already owned and are “Matched”. After adding the playlist, they still show as “Matched” – they have not changed to “Apple Music”.

      Therefore it sounds like this might be a specific bug on the Mac ITunes client?

      (I am also finding that I some of the tracks on that playlist which I do own, it has not detected this and added them as a duplicate with Apple Music, but that’s probably a different bug).

      • @Patrick Warner

        If you were tap tap the “delete” key on one of those tracks, and then clicked “Remove Download,” then control-clicked on the track name and chose “Make available offline,” you would be left with a DRM’ed (.m4p) Apple Music file. All because you happened to add a track you already had.

        With iTunes Match on its own, we used to be able to “Remove Download” (as well as sync to other iTunes on other computers) knowing we’d get a full 1:1 clone, sans DRM, of tracks we already owned. Now, with the addition of Apple Music, this is no longer the case.

    • Thanks for the above. This has highlighted 18 uploaded / matched tracks I owned before 30 June are now labelled as Apple Music files. I have checked and they are all tracks which are on Apple Music playlists I’ve subscribed to. All my other music is OK. On another note, I’ve lost all reference and menus to iTunes Match which I subscribe to.

  6. There is definitely a bug though, which *can* add DRM, and logging out and logging back in is NOT solving it. I am an iTunes Match subscriber, and I’ve retained most of the local copies of tracks on the laptop where I am experiencing this bug.

    Here’s what happens:

    If I have a local track in my library that is “Matched,” and then I subscribe to an Apple Music playlist that happens to include that same track… iTunes changes the “iCloud Status” of that track to “Apple Music.” That’s a problem. It should leave it as “Matched.”

    This happens consistently. even though the track’s entry in iTunes is linked to, and references, an .M4A (AAC) or .MP3 file I have in the Finder. And then if I delete that file from iTunes, and re-download it from the cloud, it is replaced by an (Apple Music) .M4P file.

    Simply subscribing to an Apple Music playlist that happens to overlap content with a track (or tracks) I already own, is changing their iCloud Status to “Apple Music” and removing my ownership. Even if I later unsubscribe from/delete that Apple Music playlist, the track in question remains in my library now labelled as an “Apple Music” file. Later syncs/downloads aren’t coming from iTunes Match or the Store — they are coming from Apple Music.

    If you have subscribed to a bunch of Apple Music Playlists (as I have,) here’s an easy way to determine if any of your local/owned/Matched tracks have been replaced inappropriately by Apple Music tracks:

    http://i.imgur.com/zEP9l4n.png

    • To fofur – are you using a Mac? I assume so as this is a mac site? I am using Windows ITunes and I just tested what you wrote above and for me it’s ok. I added an Apple Music playlist which contained a couple of songs that I already owned and are “Matched”. After adding the playlist, they still show as “Matched” – they have not changed to “Apple Music”.

      Therefore it sounds like this might be a specific bug on the Mac ITunes client?

      (I am also finding that I some of the tracks on that playlist which I do own, it has not detected this and added them as a duplicate with Apple Music, but that’s probably a different bug).

      • @Patrick Warner

        If you were tap tap the “delete” key on one of those tracks, and then clicked “Remove Download,” then control-clicked on the track name and chose “Make available offline,” you would be left with a DRM’ed (.m4p) Apple Music file. All because you happened to add a track you already had.

        With iTunes Match on its own, we used to be able to “Remove Download” (as well as sync to other iTunes on other computers) knowing we’d get a full 1:1 clone, sans DRM, of tracks we already owned. Now, with the addition of Apple Music, this is no longer the case.

    • Thanks for the above. This has highlighted 18 uploaded / matched tracks I owned before 30 June are now labelled as Apple Music files. I have checked and they are all tracks which are on Apple Music playlists I’ve subscribed to. All my other music is OK. On another note, I’ve lost all reference and menus to iTunes Match which I subscribe to.

  7. I’ve made a discovery. Newly Uploaded / Matched songs from my PC, are downloading without DRM on my Mac! They only have DRM when downloaded on my PC.

  8. I’ve made a discovery. Newly Uploaded / Matched songs from my PC, are downloading without DRM on my Mac! They only have DRM when downloaded on my PC.

  9. Thank you for a thought provoking article though there is one part with which I must take issue. Digital Restrictions Management is never right or proper or, in any way, justified. It takes away the moral and well justified rights of consumers and, as such, ought to be illegal. Just because it suits the interests of copyright holders, and others, to take such action doesn’t make it right or moral. Consumer rights have to be protected and we should never give them up just for the sake of access to some shiny new service.

    • I disagree. With a subscription service it is entirely justified. But it shouldn’t be added to tracks one owns.

      • I’m with David DRM is not justified even in a subscription service. It is a sort of enclosure that makes it so that the things you ‘own’ you do not own. They did it with the commons in the past so that land everyone shared became private property and now they are doing it with private digital property so that things that you think you own you only have Digitally restricted use of. DRM pedallers want to make this seem normal and “fair” so that they can impose rent as a matter of course and prevent you from using your stuff as you see fit with paying a tax.

      • The companies are very efficient mechanisms to make restrictions but to provide freedom. DRM is never good because it restricts, prohibits freedom of users.

    • Anyone who is against DRM, isn’t a musician and thinks all music should be free. If you haven’t purchased the song, or album, you don’t own it, and even with a “subscription service” of $10 does not, nor should you even think you are “entitled” to others work and artistry to do with what you like. Just imagine 5 years ago if someone said, hey for $10, you can listen to, download for your devices and play anytime you like, over 10 million songs.

      Oh wait, you probably already did for free from Napster. Consumer rights are laughable in this instance. If you believe you have a “right” to “own” music not created by you, please let me know what you do for a living, because I for one, what you to give me something for free, IF, it is something I want.

  10. Thank you for a thought provoking article though there is one part with which I must take issue. Digital Restrictions Management is never right or proper or, in any way, justified. It takes away the moral and well justified rights of consumers and, as such, ought to be illegal. Just because it suits the interests of copyright holders, and others, to take such action doesn’t make it right or moral. Consumer rights have to be protected and we should never give them up just for the sake of access to some shiny new service.

    • I disagree. With a subscription service it is entirely justified. But it shouldn’t be added to tracks one owns.

      • I’m with David DRM is not justified even in a subscription service. It is a sort of enclosure that makes it so that the things you ‘own’ you do not own. They did it with the commons in the past so that land everyone shared became private property and now they are doing it with private digital property so that things that you think you own you only have Digitally restricted use of. DRM pedallers want to make this seem normal and “fair” so that they can impose rent as a matter of course and prevent you from using your stuff as you see fit with paying a tax.

      • The companies are very efficient mechanisms to make restrictions but to provide freedom. DRM is never good because it restricts, prohibits freedom of users.

    • Anyone who is against DRM, isn’t a musician and thinks all music should be free. If you haven’t purchased the song, or album, you don’t own it, and even with a “subscription service” of $10 does not, nor should you even think you are “entitled” to others work and artistry to do with what you like. Just imagine 5 years ago if someone said, hey for $10, you can listen to, download for your devices and play anytime you like, over 10 million songs.

      Oh wait, you probably already did for free from Napster. Consumer rights are laughable in this instance. If you believe you have a “right” to “own” music not created by you, please let me know what you do for a living, because I for one, what you to give me something for free, IF, it is something I want.

  11. I’ve finally found the exact workaround! Just import & upload your songs, delete them from both iCloud and iTunes (choosing “Keep Files”), then re-import and re-upload them. They will upload / match instantly since they are already cached by the server and the downloads will now be DRM free.

  12. I’ve finally found the exact workaround! Just import & upload your songs, delete them from both iCloud and iTunes (choosing “Keep Files”), then re-import and re-upload them. They will upload / match instantly since they are already cached by the server and the downloads will now be DRM free.

  13. I understand that running a streaming service without DRM may be a more difficult business model. However, that does not make imposing DRM on the users right. I think that no one should have the right to exercise that kind of power over other people — spying on the user and restricting the use of their computer by technological means is never right. If that means that streaming services cannot be profitable, then maybe businesses should not run streaming services. I don’t think it has to be unprofitable to run a DRM free streaming service, though. Maybe it a DRM free streaming service would need to be a bit more expensive to be profitable or maybe it would need to negotiate different contracts with the record companies. Or maybe there is another solution I cannot think of right now — in any case, DRM is an unjust restriction that users ought to avoid.

  14. I understand that running a streaming service without DRM may be a more difficult business model. However, that does not make imposing DRM on the users right. I think that no one should have the right to exercise that kind of power over other people — spying on the user and restricting the use of their computer by technological means is never right. If that means that streaming services cannot be profitable, then maybe businesses should not run streaming services. I don’t think it has to be unprofitable to run a DRM free streaming service, though. Maybe it a DRM free streaming service would need to be a bit more expensive to be profitable or maybe it would need to negotiate different contracts with the record companies. Or maybe there is another solution I cannot think of right now — in any case, DRM is an unjust restriction that users ought to avoid.

  15. Update, as of today, 7/13/15:

    Thankfully, iTunes 12.2.1 is out now, and the first listed note is that it “fixes an issue for iTunes Match users where iTunes incorrectly changes some songs from Matched to Apple Music.”

    In my brief testing and checking out my library, I do see that affected tracks have now reverted back to their previously “Matched” state. Hurrah! I can use Apple Music now without crippling fear that my owned/Matches tracks getting replaced with Apple Music DRM!

    Hopefully the *other* (less serious IMO) bugs will get fixes soon, too.

  16. Update, as of today, 7/13/15:

    Thankfully, iTunes 12.2.1 is out now, and the first listed note is that it “fixes an issue for iTunes Match users where iTunes incorrectly changes some songs from Matched to Apple Music.”

    In my brief testing and checking out my library, I do see that affected tracks have now reverted back to their previously “Matched” state. Hurrah! I can use Apple Music now without crippling fear that my owned/Matches tracks getting replaced with Apple Music DRM!

    Hopefully the *other* (less serious IMO) bugs will get fixes soon, too.

  17. I have had iTunes Match for years, then added Apple Music on day-one. The next 6 weeks it worked perfectly, then I suddenly had many problems described above (I also had a problem with duplicated playlists and edited Tags that reverted to the original metadata). Oddly, about 80% of the 1400 Apple Music songs I downloaded were labeled as “Matched.” If I deleted the download, then re-downloaded the song, it was DRM free (and should have had DRM protection)! I spent hours talking to senior Apple advisors and they were stumped. I finally asked them to completely erase my Cloud library and cancel my Apple Music subscription. I opened another iTunes account where I re-subscribed to another Apple Music subscription and only use iTunes Match on my main library (I completed this on two separate Mac login accounts, but used the same iCloud ID). It will be a long while (if ever) before I use iTunes Match and Apple Music on the same account. The current setup seems to work OK so far. btw… I suggested that they offer me some sort of compensation for my trouble and they responded positively.

    • “Compensation?” As in, actual money?

      Sorry you had that experience. After a couple of weeks of hiccups, my iTunes (Match + Apple Music) appear to be working satisfactorily and predictably.

  18. I have had iTunes Match for years, then added Apple Music on day-one. The next 6 weeks it worked perfectly, then I suddenly had many problems described above (I also had a problem with duplicated playlists and edited Tags that reverted to the original metadata). Oddly, about 80% of the 1400 Apple Music songs I downloaded were labeled as “Matched.” If I deleted the download, then re-downloaded the song, it was DRM free (and should have had DRM protection)! I spent hours talking to senior Apple advisors and they were stumped. I finally asked them to completely erase my Cloud library and cancel my Apple Music subscription. I opened another iTunes account where I re-subscribed to another Apple Music subscription and only use iTunes Match on my main library (I completed this on two separate Mac login accounts, but used the same iCloud ID). It will be a long while (if ever) before I use iTunes Match and Apple Music on the same account. The current setup seems to work OK so far. btw… I suggested that they offer me some sort of compensation for my trouble and they responded positively.

    • “Compensation?” As in, actual money?

      Sorry you had that experience. After a couple of weeks of hiccups, my iTunes (Match + Apple Music) appear to be working satisfactorily and predictably.

  19. The title of the piece and the content don’t actually reflect each other. What you’re talking about is iTunes Match vs. Apple Music. iCloud music library is a different thing.

  20. The title of the piece and the content don’t actually reflect each other. What you’re talking about is iTunes Match vs. Apple Music. iCloud music library is a different thing.

  21. The precise issue here is not iTunes Match or Apple Music in themselves. While each is admittedly still buggy, each by itself provides a valid service within a coherent technical and legal framework. The problem is the lack of clear differentiation between them, and Apple is not doing its clientele any service by promoting the idea that they work together. They are like two circles in a Venn diagram, and it is confusion (for which Apple itself is largely responsible) over the areas of overlap and distinctness that lies at the heart of most problems people are having. I have used both services in the past, and would use either of them again if they suited my needs at the time, but I would never again use them together. Rather, I would think carefully about which one was the best fit with my needs: on the one side, access to a vastly wider portfolio of music; on the other side, respect for the integrity and long-term security of my existing music collection. But it would be an either/or choice, and I would never again try to get the best of both.

    • Just picking myself up on my own earlier post. Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh. Contrary to what I said earlier, I guess I would use Apple Music and iTunes Match together if I need them. But then, I have a clear understanding now of the differences between them – in particular where DRM protection can find its way into my library, and which downloads I would lose access to if I ever cancelled my subscription. I still think that Apple have scared potential subscribers away by launching two parallel services with so many apparent similarities and a few such crucial differences.

  22. The precise issue here is not iTunes Match or Apple Music in themselves. While each is admittedly still buggy, each by itself provides a valid service within a coherent technical and legal framework. The problem is the lack of clear differentiation between them, and Apple is not doing its clientele any service by promoting the idea that they work together. They are like two circles in a Venn diagram, and it is confusion (for which Apple itself is largely responsible) over the areas of overlap and distinctness that lies at the heart of most problems people are having. I have used both services in the past, and would use either of them again if they suited my needs at the time, but I would never again use them together. Rather, I would think carefully about which one was the best fit with my needs: on the one side, access to a vastly wider portfolio of music; on the other side, respect for the integrity and long-term security of my existing music collection. But it would be an either/or choice, and I would never again try to get the best of both.

    • Just picking myself up on my own earlier post. Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh. Contrary to what I said earlier, I guess I would use Apple Music and iTunes Match together if I need them. But then, I have a clear understanding now of the differences between them – in particular where DRM protection can find its way into my library, and which downloads I would lose access to if I ever cancelled my subscription. I still think that Apple have scared potential subscribers away by launching two parallel services with so many apparent similarities and a few such crucial differences.

  23. Thanks for clarifying that iCloud is another beast entirely. I just thought it was Apple’s latest implementation for allowing me to download past purchases. Instead, the iCloud seems to be eyeing more and more of my previously purchased content and I swear in some cases that content is being yanked (e.g. a disappearing act for the local files that correspond to the iCloud icon).

    I didn’t update my legacy OS to iTunes 11.4 until about three months ago. I didn’t make any point to distinguish various encoding types until I decided that it was time to ditch the old iPod Photo (20GB, circa 2006), with my smartphone. I soon found that 200 tracts were DRM protected and couldn’t copy over to my smartphone for playback there.

    It’s all been terribly confusing for me even though I’ve been using Macs for more than 25 years, exclusively.

    There are instructions out on the web, which may have been aimed at users of earlier versions of iTunes, that suggest that you can sort your music library by “kind” to reveal which files are Protected vs. Purchased. Some of the instructions say you will need iTunes Match but others do not make any mention of it, and instead state that it is only necessary to confirm the tract availability on the iTunes Store after which it is safe to delete the Protected original and download a fresh “Purchased” copy. I did just that but rather than run into the DRM issue again, iTunes 11 simply states that the originals for my seemingly successful iCloud downloads cannot be located.

    Apparently some users have reported that iCloud downloads will revert to DRM status even though that particular form of DRM was ditched in ~2009 or thereabouts. That isn’t my problem though. My list of what was formerly “Protected” now reads as “Purchased” — just as the instructions on various websites promised it would. But when I go to play it back I realize that even though it looks like the download succeeded there is no LOCAL copy. So far I know of no workaround for this short of taking my Protected originals out of the trash and moving them back into iTunes, where they will no doubt become duplicates.

    Apple has been my sole source of digital music. They have my entire purchase history, under the same ID, dating back many moons. I really think as a matter of ethics Apple should have EMAILED notices to DRM-purchasing customers as far back as 2009 that there existed an option to upgrade to non-DRM versions for 30¢ (or so I’ve read). That boat already sailed and now, if I’m not mistaken, the only workaround is paying up for iTunes Match? (Honestly, I’m afraid that if I use the iTunes Match service Apple will have the means to remand my purchases back to the Cloud — without leaving my local copy intact — “at will”, and that I may not catch on to what has taken place in my library for the simple fact that Apple has allowed iTunes 11 to list tracts that no longer reside locally as if they are *still accounted for*.)

    Based on my experience with the iCloud “download” route vs. the menu-driven “Check for Available Downloads”, I thought Apple merely had LINKED my purchase history on a track-by-track basis and that there is no way I could effectively “lose” access to previously-downloaded music. But the iCloud download option is only a temporary solution. In the immediate aftermath the tract can be played but if I relaunch iTunes later the tract exists in the library in NAME ONLY and has, apparently, reverted to the Cloud. (Attempts to play it will launch the “original tract could not be found” error.)

    In my view, Apple has over-complicated iTunes 11+. (In addition to the focus on minimalist design aesthetics, the whole Apple model was originally founded on the KISS principal: Keep It Simple, Stupid — a computer for the rest of us!)

    There was a time in the pre-Apple Store days when I avidly read Mac magazines and ran on the upgrade treadmill like a good little Mac addict. But after many years I’m now of the opinion that if it’s “not broke, don’t fix it”. I’m still happy using Adobe CS6 pre-Creative Cloud software and until I can’t make use of those programs anymore I will also run as old of a Mac as it takes to continue using that software. I’ve gotta deal with older hardware/software because I’m not going to adopt Adobe’s Cloud anymore than I want anything to do with Apple’s Cloud.

    Even though the DRM issue is hardly new, I’ve wasted a lot of time reading and/or posting in forums in the hope of obtaining assistance from those more in the know than I. Two weeks into my iTunes iCloud download mess, however, nobody can offer me a straightforward solution to my original DRM woes.

    Is it really true that I have to subscribe to iTunes Match and that there is absolutely no other method for accessing what I’ve already purchased on non-Apple products? If Apple isn’t using the same type of DRM that was in use prior to 2009, why wasn’t there a courtesy notification that went to the email accounts of customers that had an Apple ID and a purchase history suggesting that they obtained DRM content? And why wasn’t the “upgrade” from Protected to Purchased complementary in the first place?

    • “I really think as a matter of ethics Apple should have EMAILED notices to DRM-purchasing customers as far back as 2009 that there existed an option to upgrade to non-DRM versions for 30¢ (or so I’ve read). That boat already sailed and now, if I’m not mistaken, the only workaround is paying up for iTunes Match?”

      You should be able to just play the files in iTunes, which is what I’m still doing with the few tracks I bought with DRM years ago. Impressively, Apple still lets you download them from their servers when you add new devices. I’m not sure why that wouldn’t work for you. Right-click a track and select download to make sure you’re not simply streaming it from iCloud.

      Once you’ve got them as Protected AAC on your hard drive, you’ve always got the original “DRM hole” — burn the protected files to a CD, then rip the CD. If it’s not a full album, you might have to manually name the files when you import, but it’s an okay workaround. Guess you could also record while you played on your Mac, if you don’t have a burner handy, though that’s kind of a pain. ;^)

      Strangely, when I had iTunes Match, it didn’t match *one* track from an album I’d purchased *from Apple* with DRM. (I’ve got LOTS of albums I’d ripped where it missed a track or two, but this one I purchased from iTunes.) So on a new box where I copied over a number of files, I have 11 tracks from Between the Buttons as Matched AAC and one only as Protected. Worse, there’s an album that’s been rereleased (Paper by Rich Robinson) that I’d purchased in the past from iTunes where now I’m strangely only able to download four tracks from iCloud on new devices. Go figure. It is, truly, a mess. /sigh

    • Apple did email people when they removed DRM, the Mac press explained how to upgrade, and the upgrade process was visible in the iTunes Store.

  24. Thanks for clarifying that iCloud is another beast entirely. I just thought it was Apple’s latest implementation for allowing me to download past purchases. Instead, the iCloud seems to be eyeing more and more of my previously purchased content and I swear in some cases that content is being yanked (e.g. a disappearing act for the local files that correspond to the iCloud icon).

    I didn’t update my legacy OS to iTunes 11.4 until about three months ago. I didn’t make any point to distinguish various encoding types until I decided that it was time to ditch the old iPod Photo (20GB, circa 2006), with my smartphone. I soon found that 200 tracts were DRM protected and couldn’t copy over to my smartphone for playback there.

    It’s all been terribly confusing for me even though I’ve been using Macs for more than 25 years, exclusively.

    There are instructions out on the web, which may have been aimed at users of earlier versions of iTunes, that suggest that you can sort your music library by “kind” to reveal which files are Protected vs. Purchased. Some of the instructions say you will need iTunes Match but others do not make any mention of it, and instead state that it is only necessary to confirm the tract availability on the iTunes Store after which it is safe to delete the Protected original and download a fresh “Purchased” copy. I did just that but rather than run into the DRM issue again, iTunes 11 simply states that the originals for my seemingly successful iCloud downloads cannot be located.

    Apparently some users have reported that iCloud downloads will revert to DRM status even though that particular form of DRM was ditched in ~2009 or thereabouts. That isn’t my problem though. My list of what was formerly “Protected” now reads as “Purchased” — just as the instructions on various websites promised it would. But when I go to play it back I realize that even though it looks like the download succeeded there is no LOCAL copy. So far I know of no workaround for this short of taking my Protected originals out of the trash and moving them back into iTunes, where they will no doubt become duplicates.

    Apple has been my sole source of digital music. They have my entire purchase history, under the same ID, dating back many moons. I really think as a matter of ethics Apple should have EMAILED notices to DRM-purchasing customers as far back as 2009 that there existed an option to upgrade to non-DRM versions for 30¢ (or so I’ve read). That boat already sailed and now, if I’m not mistaken, the only workaround is paying up for iTunes Match? (Honestly, I’m afraid that if I use the iTunes Match service Apple will have the means to remand my purchases back to the Cloud — without leaving my local copy intact — “at will”, and that I may not catch on to what has taken place in my library for the simple fact that Apple has allowed iTunes 11 to list tracts that no longer reside locally as if they are *still accounted for*.)

    Based on my experience with the iCloud “download” route vs. the menu-driven “Check for Available Downloads”, I thought Apple merely had LINKED my purchase history on a track-by-track basis and that there is no way I could effectively “lose” access to previously-downloaded music. But the iCloud download option is only a temporary solution. In the immediate aftermath the tract can be played but if I relaunch iTunes later the tract exists in the library in NAME ONLY and has, apparently, reverted to the Cloud. (Attempts to play it will launch the “original tract could not be found” error.)

    In my view, Apple has over-complicated iTunes 11+. (In addition to the focus on minimalist design aesthetics, the whole Apple model was originally founded on the KISS principal: Keep It Simple, Stupid — a computer for the rest of us!)

    There was a time in the pre-Apple Store days when I avidly read Mac magazines and ran on the upgrade treadmill like a good little Mac addict. But after many years I’m now of the opinion that if it’s “not broke, don’t fix it”. I’m still happy using Adobe CS6 pre-Creative Cloud software and until I can’t make use of those programs anymore I will also run as old of a Mac as it takes to continue using that software. I’ve gotta deal with older hardware/software because I’m not going to adopt Adobe’s Cloud anymore than I want anything to do with Apple’s Cloud.

    Even though the DRM issue is hardly new, I’ve wasted a lot of time reading and/or posting in forums in the hope of obtaining assistance from those more in the know than I. Two weeks into my iTunes iCloud download mess, however, nobody can offer me a straightforward solution to my original DRM woes.

    Is it really true that I have to subscribe to iTunes Match and that there is absolutely no other method for accessing what I’ve already purchased on non-Apple products? If Apple isn’t using the same type of DRM that was in use prior to 2009, why wasn’t there a courtesy notification that went to the email accounts of customers that had an Apple ID and a purchase history suggesting that they obtained DRM content? And why wasn’t the “upgrade” from Protected to Purchased complementary in the first place?

    • “I really think as a matter of ethics Apple should have EMAILED notices to DRM-purchasing customers as far back as 2009 that there existed an option to upgrade to non-DRM versions for 30¢ (or so I’ve read). That boat already sailed and now, if I’m not mistaken, the only workaround is paying up for iTunes Match?”

      You should be able to just play the files in iTunes, which is what I’m still doing with the few tracks I bought with DRM years ago. Impressively, Apple still lets you download them from their servers when you add new devices. I’m not sure why that wouldn’t work for you. Right-click a track and select download to make sure you’re not simply streaming it from iCloud.

      Once you’ve got them as Protected AAC on your hard drive, you’ve always got the original “DRM hole” — burn the protected files to a CD, then rip the CD. If it’s not a full album, you might have to manually name the files when you import, but it’s an okay workaround. Guess you could also record while you played on your Mac, if you don’t have a burner handy, though that’s kind of a pain. ;^)

      Strangely, when I had iTunes Match, it didn’t match *one* track from an album I’d purchased *from Apple* with DRM. (I’ve got LOTS of albums I’d ripped where it missed a track or two, but this one I purchased from iTunes.) So on a new box where I copied over a number of files, I have 11 tracks from Between the Buttons as Matched AAC and one only as Protected. Worse, there’s an album that’s been rereleased (Paper by Rich Robinson) that I’d purchased in the past from iTunes where now I’m strangely only able to download four tracks from iCloud on new devices. Go figure. It is, truly, a mess. /sigh

    • Apple did email people when they removed DRM, the Mac press explained how to upgrade, and the upgrade process was visible in the iTunes Store.

  25. Folks, thanks for all the comments and for the article.was really useful. Now my question is regarding 3rd party apps. Lets say that I want to use my Itunes Music library with Djay app. Most of the tracks are grayed out. Even if I got the iTunes Match subscription. It is fair to say that iTunes Match is useful for ones that have old tracks and want to get ina better quality? but this doesn’t mean that you can pay for Apple Music hopping you can use the tracks in the way you want?

    • If you download Matched / Uploaded songs via iTunes Match, you can use them in 3rd party apps. Apple Music tracks cannot be used with 3rd party apps due to DRM. Simply signing up for iTunes Match won’t change you exising DRM tracks to Matched. You must import new DRM free tracks into your library and have them Matched / Uploaded.

  26. Folks, thanks for all the comments and for the article.was really useful. Now my question is regarding 3rd party apps. Lets say that I want to use my Itunes Music library with Djay app. Most of the tracks are grayed out. Even if I got the iTunes Match subscription. It is fair to say that iTunes Match is useful for ones that have old tracks and want to get ina better quality? but this doesn’t mean that you can pay for Apple Music hopping you can use the tracks in the way you want?

    • If you download Matched / Uploaded songs via iTunes Match, you can use them in 3rd party apps. Apple Music tracks cannot be used with 3rd party apps due to DRM. Simply signing up for iTunes Match won’t change you exising DRM tracks to Matched. You must import new DRM free tracks into your library and have them Matched / Uploaded.

  27. Can I delete all music from my computer if I have it all backed up on an external drive and the original files in iCloud? If so, where do the iTunes library files reside?

  28. Can I delete all music from my computer if I have it all backed up on an external drive and the original files in iCloud? If so, where do the iTunes library files reside?

  29. I just tested this with my Apple ID. I only have a Apple Music subscription, no iTunes Match. When I enable Cloud Support in iTunes it Syncs/Matches my songs as if I had iTunes Match. I can download the matched songs on another computer and will geht an m4a file from apple wich is _not_ DRM protected. If I download my synced songs I get the original Mp3 (or whatever) file.

    Maybe this was a bug which is now fixed. I tested this with mainstream pop where a Match ratio is pretty good.

    • A subscription to Apple Music now includes the functionality of iTunes Match. There is no need to pay for both separately. So if you’re saying it matched a file you already had in your library, then it makes sense that the song that downloads on another computer is M4A (and not DRM protected.) Now add a track you don’t have, from Apple Music, and see what the file looks like when you download it on the other computer. You’ll see it is M4P (which of course has DRM.)

      http://www.imore.com/apple-music-vs-itunes-match-whats-difference

  30. I just tested this with my Apple ID. I only have a Apple Music subscription, no iTunes Match. When I enable Cloud Support in iTunes it Syncs/Matches my songs as if I had iTunes Match. I can download the matched songs on another computer and will geht an m4a file from apple wich is _not_ DRM protected. If I download my synced songs I get the original Mp3 (or whatever) file.

    Maybe this was a bug which is now fixed. I tested this with mainstream pop where a Match ratio is pretty good.

    • A subscription to Apple Music now includes the functionality of iTunes Match. There is no need to pay for both separately. So if you’re saying it matched a file you already had in your library, then it makes sense that the song that downloads on another computer is M4A (and not DRM protected.) Now add a track you don’t have, from Apple Music, and see what the file looks like when you download it on the other computer. You’ll see it is M4P (which of course has DRM.)

      http://www.imore.com/apple-music-vs-itunes-match-whats-difference

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