What Happens When You Get to 25,000 Tracks on iTunes Match

Apple’s iTunes Match is a $25 a year service that lets you match tracks from your iTunes library with music in the iTunes Store, store your music in the cloud, and stream or download it to different devices. It can be practical for people who want access to their music on the go, as long as they don’t have too much music. My iTunes library is currently around 70,000 tracks, so I’m nebula non grata; I have a second iTunes library that is almost as large. So iTunes Match doesn’t work for me.

That 25,000 track limit is a brick wall. When you get there, strange things happen to iTunes Match. I was reminded of this when Dave Hamilton tweeted something today.

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First, Dave didn’t actually go above 25,000 tracks. While the iTunes window tells him there are 25,003, he told me he has about 500 purchased tracks. iTunes doesn’t count them against your limit.

So in another 500 tracks or so, he will hit that wall. When that moment arrives, iTunes Match can act very strangely. Here are some of the things that users have reported.

  • iTunes Match may no longer upload new tracks, even after a user has deleted tracks from the cloud to get under the 25,000 track limit.
  • iTunes can seem to update iTunes Match without any progress.
  • Downloads may not always work.
  • Syncs of songs and playlists stop working correctly among devices.

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on how many tracks you have in the cloud, so you don’t exceed the 25,000 track limit. To do this, check the iTunes Match screen, which you can see above, but take into account how many purchased tracks you have. To find this number, you can make a smart playlist with the following conditions:

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In my iTunes library, it shows that I have a whopping 4,176 purchased tracks. (I bought a few big “digital box sets,” such as the Dylan and U2 sets, which, together, make up about 1,200 tracks.)

Subtract this number from the total to see how much wiggle-room you have.

Next, you may want to delete some music from the cloud; music you don’t listen to often. Keep local copies of it, then delete it from your iTunes library. Select the tracks, then press Command-Shift-Delete (Control-Shift-Delete on Windows). When you see a dialog asking if you want to delete the tracks, check Also delete these items from iCloud.

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So, iTunes Match can be useful, but if you have a lot of music, and continue to acquire more, keep an eye on that 25,000 track limit.