Apple Music vs iTunes Match

The new Apple Music service is receiving lots of accolades, but if you’re an iTunes Match subscriber like me, you may be wondering if you can ditch iTunes Match altogether now.  However, there is one important feature that iTunes Match offers that Apple Music does not: DRM-free music.

If you’re not familiar with the service, iTunes Match allows you to basically upload all of your music to iCloud and listen to it on all of your Apple devices.  iTunes will match songs you have locally with songs already in the iTunes Store, so it doesn’t need to upload every single file of your library.  This also allows you to download a DRM-free version of that song at 256kbps AAC (even if your copy of the song was a crappy 128kbps MP3 CD rip from your younger days, before you knew any better).

But wait, doesn’t Apple Music do the same thing?  While it will match up your songs to the Apple Music library (which is slightly smaller than the iTunes Store), you won’t be able to download a DRM-free copy of that song.  Check out the following table which breaks down each feature.

 Apple MusiciTunes Match
Song MatchingMatches your local music files to the Apple Music library, making them available for streaming to all of your devices.Matches your local music files to the iTunes Store library (which is slightly larger than Apple Music's library), making them available for streaming to all of your devices.
DownloadingYou can download a DRM-protected 256kbps AAC copy of any matched songs. These files can be played as long as you're an Apple Music subscriber.You can download a 256kbps AAC copy of any matched song. These files are not DRM-protected and can be played indefinitely, even if you no longer subscribe to iTunes Match.
Obtaining New MusicYou can stream any song in the Apple Music category by simply searching for it.You must obtain (i.e. purchase) and then add the music file to iTunes first, then allow iTunes to match it. In theory, you would still be purchasing the music (or ripping it from a CD) first.
Cost$9.99 per month$24.99 per YEAR

So can you ditch iTunes Match?  If you plan to subscribe to Apple Music indefinitely, you probably can get rid of iTunes Match since the DRM-protection won’t matter to you.

And don’t forget: Apple Music does not add DRM to your local music files.  The only time that DRM is added is if you delete your local copy of a song from iTunes and then re-download it from Apple Music, so be sure to keep separate backups of your music files!

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