iTunes Match cloud music service released

Apple has finally released its iTunes Match cloud music service to the UK and various other countries. For a fee, Apple scans users’ libraries, allowing songs to be replaced with higher quality versions. These can then be accessed from other Apple devices.

The service has been referred to as an “amnesty for music pirates” however it does not secure users from copyright infringement prosecutions. A glitch marred the launch, locking some users out of their accounts, a serious downfall considering the hype that surrounded the launch. For £21.99 a year, users can put 25,000 songs stored on their computer, up into the cloud  including CD-rips as well as tracks.

“We believe that it creates a great and seamless experience for music buyers that will ultimately see increased sales and digital conversion,” Paul Smernicki, director of digital for Universal Music UK said.

Although Amazon and Google offer rival cloud music services, they are not yet available in the UK thus allowing Apple to take a storming lead. Users of Spotify are allowed to stream music they do not own from its servers, but either imposes a certain limit and play adverts consistently or charges a minimum £4.99 per month fee.

However experts suggest Apple is not focused on making its service a moneyspinner but instead intent of researching into new and upcoming ways of allowing users to explore music. When the service was released in American a month ago, reports suggested that Apple had agreed to share the subscription fee with record labels – effectively helping them monetise illegal downloads.

“This is also formal recognition that the majority of digital music consumers tend to get music from lots of sources, including illegal ones, as well as buying legitimate MP3s. The music labels may not say it but they now accept they will never win the war against piracy.”

“There is an argument that this launders your pirated music. But frankly as a consumer what difference does that make?” he said.

“The word amnesty implies there was some sort of penalty out there – frankly no-one was going to break down your door and tell you off. So this really doesn’t change anything in practical terms.”

Have you tried out the service yet? What do you think of it? Leave your comments below!