iTunes Match and track metadata
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: Just read your response to reader’s question regarding iTunes Match. It clarified a few concerns I had. I do have an additional question, however. Assuming iTunes scans my entire music library, and assuming I delete my library to preserve HD space, when I later download some tracks back onto my HD, will it download in the original form in which it was matched/uploaded? In other words, I’m very particular how my music is tagged (i.e. I tag my albums differently than the iTunes has its albums tagged), so when I download a particular album back onto my HD, will it download that
particular album containing my tags, or will it just download with iTunes’ tags?
A: While you should be fine in terms of your custom track metadata and tags, it’s important to note that you won’t likely get all of your tracks back in their exact original form.
In order to avoid having to store millions of redundant copies of tracks on Apple’s servers, iTunes Match takes advantage of the very large catalog of music that is already available on the iTunes Store. When you setup iTunes Match, the iTunes application goes through your library and tries to match as much of your library as it can to music that Apple already has available. If a track can be matched, it’s simply “linked” to the version that is normally sold on the iTunes Store; only those tracks that cannot be matched to something already available on iTunes are uploaded directly to Apple’s servers.
Despite this, however, iTunes maintains a virtual copy of your iTunes library database in the cloud as part of the iTunes Match service. Much like the iTunes library database on your Mac or PC, the cloud-based iTunes Match database contains all of your track metadata such as name, artist, album, genre, artwork, and even play counts, last played dates, and playlists. When you download an iTunes Match track to any iTunes library, even your original one, the metadata is filled in based on the information you provide. Note that this applies even for tracks purchased from the iTunes Store—if you’ve customized the metadata for those tracks, that’s what will appear in your iTunes libraries and other devices connected to iTunes Match.
In the case of “Matched” tracks, if you delete the original track from your iTunes library and re-download it from the cloud, you will get the same 256kbps AAC version being sold on the iTunes Store, but the track will have your customized metadata applied to it. For most users this is effectively an upgrade to a higher quality version, but if your library already consists of higher bit-rate tracks, you’ll definitely want to preserve those elsewhere before deleting them.
On the other hand, this won’t be an issue in the case of “Purchased” or “Uploaded” tracks. For Purchased tracks, what you have in your library should already be exactly the same as what’s on the iTunes Store since that’s where you got it from in the first place. For “Uploaded” tracks, iTunes has in fact uploaded an exact copy of what was in your library to Apple’s servers, since it couldn’t find a copy to match it to, so when you download it into iTunes, you actually are getting that exact copy right back.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Apple’s new ‘Echo rival’ may feature a camera
- Apple ‘working rapidly’ to extend Apple Pay to more countries
- Report: Apple’s Siri-based Amazon Echo competitor will be a new Apple TV
- Report: Apple SVP Eddy Cue proposed bid to buy Time Warner
- Beta testing for Pokémon GO begins in the U.S.
- Apple’s plan to open stores in India hits a snag (Update: India’s finance minister ratifies ruling)
- Apple looking into charging stations for electric cars
- Apple hires hint at improvements in encryption, health monitoring
- Hyundai adds CarPlay support to more vehicles
- Plaintiffs file new motion to keep ‘Error 53’ Touch ID lawsuit alive
- OtterBox Symmetry Series Hybrid Case for 12.9” iPad Pro
- Logitech Logi BASE Charging Stand for iPad Pro
- Twelve South TimePorter for Apple Watch
- August Doorbell Cam
- August Smart Lock HomeKit enabled + Smart Keypad
- ecobee3 HomeKit-enabled smart Wi-Fi thermostat
- Zagg Now Cam
- Yantouch EyE Portable Wireless Speaker
- Netatmo Wind Gauge
- Incipio Stashback for iPhone 6/6s
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app
- Inside the betas: What’s new in iOS 9.3 and tvOS 9.2 (Updated)
- Life with HomeKit: Our experiences with Apple’s home automation system
- Under the Radar: 10 ‘hidden’ details about the new Apple TV
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.0
- Under the Radar: A closer look at smaller iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus changes
- A First Look at iOS 9’s Transit in Apple Maps (Updated for watchOS 2)