Apple was a little bit late on its promise of a “late October” release for iTunes Match, its new music subscription service that lets you have cloud access to all of your songs for $24.99 per year, but it has finally made the service available for everyone with the new iTunes 10.5.1 update.
If you’re not up to speed, iTunes Match is a service that scans through all of your MP3s (yes, all, whether they are ripped from CDs or downloaded from anywhere on the Internet) and “matches” them, giving you access to the corresponding songs on the iTunes Music Store. This means that if you have a collection of low-quality downloaded MP3s, you can “upgrade” them to HQ 256 kbps files from iTunes for $24.99 per year, and if you already have the quality you want, you will also have access to re-download any of your songs to your iOS devices or your five authorized PCs. It’s essentially access to all of your music at any time, without the painful upload process that comes along with similar systems like Google Music and Amazon Cloud.
If iTunes doesn’t have matching songs for something in your library, those files are uploaded to Apple’s cloud, so you’ll be able to re-download those, too.
If you are interested in iTunes Match, head over to Apple’s iTunes site or run Software Update and upgrade your iTunes to 10.5.1. When you launch iTunes again after the update, you’ll see a new sidebar item underneath the iTunes Store called iTunes Match. Once you click that, you should see a button to Subscribe — just click that and you will be walked through the signup and scanning process. It looks like it is experiencing a high signup load right now and is only letting so many through, so if you get an error that says signups are temporarily unavailable, try back in a few hours.
For those of you who have made it through, what do you think of iTunes Match so far? How long did the initial scan and import take? Share your experiences in the comments.