An Apple Senior Product Specialist has confirmed to iLounge that Apple Music has been expanded to include all of the key features of iTunes Match, clarifying the update to the Apple Music Membership FAQ that we reported on last week. The specialist confirmed that Apple Music subscribers can now download DRM-free versions of “matched” tracks without an iTunes Match subscription, although he clarified that this won’t necessarily be the case for older DRM-laden songs purchased from the iTunes Store — basically, those tracks purchased prior to the 2007-2009 period when Apple began selling music without DRM. Specifically, an iTunes Match subscription is still required to download 256-kbps DRM-free versions of any of those older purchased iTunes Songs — provided the DRM-free versions are available on the iTunes Store — whereas users without an iTunes Match subscription will be limited to the originally-purchased 128kbps DRM-protected versions from their purchase history.
Asked about the July report that Apple was bringing the more sophisticated acoustic fingerprinting algorithms to Apple Music subscribers, the Apple rep was unable to comment on any specific improvements that have been made to Apple Music in this regard, although he noted that Apple is always working to improve its matching algorithms in general. One interesting clarification that he did add, however, was that due to licensing restrictions, matching can only occur based on the catalog available on whichever service the user is subscribed to — Apple Music subscribers can only match tracks against songs available for streaming in the Apple Music library, and iTunes Match subscribers can only match against songs available for sale on the iTunes Store. Regardless of which of the two services a user subscribes to, however, any tracks that cannot be matched from the available catalog will still be uploaded as before.