Thursday, May 4, 2017

Apple Music needs a force-upload option (or equivalent)

Most people don’t have 40,000+ MP3s anymore, unless you’re my Dad. You see, my Dad is a music enthusiast, and ex-party DJ, so he has amassed quite the collection of music over the years. This collection includes rarities, alternate versions, region-specific masterings of albums, you name it. This presents some challenges when he uses Apple Music. To understand the issue here, let me first break down the three distinct services involved…

iCloud Music Library

  • Utilized by Apple Music and iTunes Match to centrally manage your music so it can be accessed from all your Apple devices.
  • No direct cost for the functionality, but storage limitation of uploaded songs depends on your iCloud Drive plan (5GB free by default).

Apple Music

  • The streaming service with access to the Apple Music catalog of songs. Also includes iTunes Match built in (see below).
  • 90-day free trial | Individual: $9.99 per month | Family: $14.99 per month (up to 6 users) | Student: $4.99 per month

iTunes Match

  • Separate service that makes only your existing library available on other Apple devices by attempting to match your songs to ones available in the iTunes catalog. If no matches are found, your songs are uploaded for streaming to iCloud Music Library.
  • $25 per year

Okay, now with that confusion out of the way, let’s get back to my Dad’s problem. In one recent case, he could not get the mono version of The Beatles box set to upload into iCloud Music Library, because Apple Music used iTunes Match to “match” his mono tracks with the stereo versions already available on Apple Music. For a music enthusiast, this is a big problem. There are workarounds, such as altering the name of a song or its album, but it shouldn’t have to come to this.

To sum it up: Apple needs to accommodate my Dad and other users like him by means of a force-upload option, or a way to omit songs from being matched.

I have been using Apple Music since it launched in June 2015, so I’ve seen the growing pains firsthand. Granted, the service is much better since then, there’s still some low-hanging fruit for it to have that Apple touch.