Little and Big Music Disagree On 'iTunes Match'

iTunes Match was Steve Jobs' "One More Thing at WWDC this year. It allows users to get the same backup and "download anywhere" benefits from legitimate iTunes purchases as well as any other music they might have, regardless of where it was acquired. Or, as All Things Digital's Peter Kafka put it:

Apple will take the songs you've stolen, and turn them into legit files, with big music's blessing.

Big music might have agreed to Apple's pirate amnesty scheme, but little music may not fall in line quite so quietly.

match
Rob Sevier, owner of Chicago-based Numero Group -- a tiny record label that specializes in old Soul music -- thinks iTunes Match is a raw deal. In a chat with Ars Technica's Chris Foresman, Sevier explained the effect of piracy on a small record label like Numero.

[M]any of Numero's releases sell in the range of about 10,000 copies total, including physical and digital formats. Yet, the label has found copies of tracks from its albums on sharing sites such as MediaFire or RapidShare with download counts that far exceed sales numbers.

"People will rip your album and upload them, and you can see how many people are downloading it," Sevier explained. "And in some cases people are downloading our stuff like 80,000 times or more. We have seen, on average, anything from 10 to 20 times more downloads than legitimate sales."

"There's no way that we're not going to see matching that exceeds what we're selling legitimately," Sevier said.

This is nothing new. Six years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that Grokster and StreamCast "induced users to violate copyrights and chose not to take the simple steps available to prevent it." The Economist, writing about the case in 2005, noted "the challenge for content providers is to use new technology to create value for customers, and to make those who use content illegally feel bad about it."

If, as Sevier claims, Match is bad for the artist and the record company, then it must be good for the consumer. Sevier, for one, thinks so:

[iTunes Match is] brilliant. I will definitely use the free version since I'll be able to access all of the stuff I've bought from iTunes and not have to permanently store it all on my computer.

But clearly some of the big record execs like it too. Labels hope iTunes Match will supply them with three important things: Some amount of revenue for pirated music is better than nothing; labels will get more feedback about the types of music that consumers are listening to; and, they hope, iTunes Match will get customers into the habit of paying for music again -- at least in a subscription form.

Top Rated Comments

trainwrecka Avatar
127 months ago
Let's not forget about the legit users.

Remember a lot of us were alive during the transition from CDs to iTunes. That means a lot of us have thousands of songs purchased legally imported into iTunes. It also means people are covered if they bought them from an alternative service like Amazon. People are going to steal regardless. This is a big plus for the honest folk out there.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Sardonick007 Avatar
127 months ago
Arrogant pricks. Not all non-iTunes music is stolen. I've got over 500 CD's full of music that I have ripped myself. I own them. Screw you record labels.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Hirth Avatar
127 months ago
The argument is trotted out again that "pirated downloads were X times higher than legitimate sales", with the implication being that if there were no piracy, then our sales would have been X (or some significant fraction thereof) times higher. There is no rational way to estimate this. If there were no piracy, sales might have been X times higher; sales might not have been any higher at all. There is no way to tell. There is no way to perform the experiment to find out, either. Also what about people who have NO pirated music on their computers. Should they be punished (by having to buy a fresh digital copy of music they already own) because of some people who do not respect copyright?
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AmpSkillz Avatar
127 months ago
"People will rip your album and upload them, and you can see how many people are downloading it," Sevier explained. "And in some cases people are downloading our stuff like 80,000 times or more. We have seen, on average, anything from 10 to 20 times more downloads than legitimate sales."

"There's no way that we're not going to see matching that exceeds what we're selling legitimately"

so.... people download free stuff more than stuff you have to pay for

this Rob Sevier guy is a freaking genius

just because people are willing to download something for free does not mean they would have paid for it

its kind of like apps in the app store, I try free crap all the time but that does not mean I would have paid for it if they decided to charge for it

when it comes to paid apps i am fairly selective
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Michael Scrip Avatar
127 months ago
Apple will take the songs you've stolen, and turn them into legit files, with big music's blessing.

It really sounds too good to be true... that you can have Apple scan your "less-than-legal" music downloads and let you have fresh clean copies of those songs sent to your iDevices.

On the other hand... you're paying for that service... and I bet a big portion of that fee is given to the record labels.

The record labels currently get ZERO dollars if you just sync those illegal songs with a USB cable... so maybe this is their way of trying to get something...
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jlgolson Avatar
127 months ago
Apple will make it seamless, but there's 3 kinds of songs:

(1) Purchased on iTunes with local copy on your device, and if not, available to download. No dent in your 5GB iCloud. This is already working. Very nice.
Correct!

(2) Obtained elsewhere but iTunes Matched. Can stream from the iCloud as long as you pay your subscription. No dent in your 5GB storage. It's Pandora with your database playing Apple's copy of the track. This is why this entire article and thread is a non-issue.
INCORRECT! iTunes Match gives you the EXACT SAME benefits as (1) but for music obtained elsewhere. Whether you got it from Amazon, ripped a CD or pirated it, it gives you a 256Kbps AAC copy from iTunes (if that's better than the copy you have) AND lets you download to all your devices, exactly the same as if you purchased it from iTunes. There is NO streaming. No dent in your 5GB storage, because it's just giving you access to iTunes tracks for free.

(3) No match for your song. Uploads your file to iCloud, counts against your 5GB, available to download to any device.
Correct.

What keeps someone from continuing to "pirate" music and register (i.e. "legitimatize") pirated songs via iTunes Match?
Absolutely nothing.
Is Apple going to work with the RIAA to identify pirated music and support the investigation? I could totally see the RIAA planting songs on the torrents with their own unique watermarks and then Apple giving them a call when these watermarked songs show up in iTunes Match, along with the user's name, address, etc.
This will never happen.

If iTunes Match actually allows you to DOWNLOAD a 256kbps AAC rather than STREAMING, then...

* Won't this open up a whole new era of pirating, with the neoNapsters of the world sharing/stealing crappy small 16kbps files for iTunes to upgrade? A bunch of friends cobble together the $24.99 and they all receive unlimted downloads of the high quality versions of all their songs? I say no, because the files will not be downloaded, only streamed.
Yes, it will! A bunch of friends won't "cobble together" anything. It's $25 bucks and it only works on a certain number of devices. $25 is not a lot of money. THERE IS NO STREAMING. Only downloading.

* What happens to someone who downloads all the upgraded versions, then stops their iTunes Match subscription? Do the files explode? Is Apple going back to a DRM scheme with some sort of lockdown for cancelled subscriptions? I say no, because they will not be downloaded, only streamed. Stop subscription, stop streaming access.
Again, no streaming. You keep all the files that you have downloaded, and stop getting access to iCloud backup of your songs until you pay $25 again. The files don't have DRM. They are 100% identical to the tracks you get from iTunes.

* Why does Apple continue to ask me for $0.30 to upgrade all the old 128kbps DRM'd AACs I purchased years back? Wouldn't they just discontinue that program right now if they were about to let me download them all for free anyhow? I say no, because they will not be downloaded, only streamed.
Good question. It seems pretty silly. Gotta be an oversight.

Implies to me your matched music will be played from the iCloud, just like the 90-second previews in the iTunes store, but the whole song. Imagine the current iCloud icon next to your song in a playlist with a little play button instead of the little download arrow.
"And all the music iTunes matches plays back at 256-Kbps iTunes Plus quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality." Plays back. Not downloads. Plays back.
You're wrong. It's a "download" service. No streaming. At all. None.

Mark my words, iTunes Match is a streaming/syncing service. The writing is on the wall folks.[/B]
If you're right, I'll pay for your first year of iTunes Match. There is no streaming.

All iTunes Match does is add your existing music to iCloud, and treats it the same as any music you have purchased from iTunes.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

microsoft edge ios android

Bill Gates Says His Preference for Android Over iPhone is Due to Pre-Installed Software

Friday February 26, 2021 3:35 am PST by
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates this week participated in his first meeting on Clubhouse, the increasingly popular invite-only conversation app, where he fielded a range of questions as part of an ongoing book tour. Gates was interviewed by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, and given that the Clubhouse app is currently only available on iOS, naturally one of the questions that came up was...
Top Stories 47 Feature copy

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, and AirPods Rumors, macOS 11.2.2, MagSafe Wallet Revisited

Saturday February 27, 2021 6:00 am PST by
March is right around the corner, and that means our first good opportunity for Apple product launches in 2021 as the company frequently has significant launches in March or April each year. We're hearing rumors about MacBook Pro, iMac, AirPods, and more, although many of these will be coming out at different times over the course of the year. This week also saw a macOS update to address a ...
iphone 6 in hand

Apple Faces Another iPhone Lawsuit Over 'Programmed Obsolescence'

Monday March 1, 2021 6:44 am PST by
Apple faces a new class-action lawsuit that accuses it of deliberately releasing iOS updates that slowly reduce the performance of an iPhone, forcing customers to upgrade their devices. The lawsuit comes from the Portuguese Consumer Protection Agency, Deco Proteste (via Marketeer), which in a statement says that it will proceed with a case against the Cupertino tech giant because it...
maxresdefault

HomeKit Essentials Worth Checking Out

Saturday February 27, 2021 7:05 am PST by
HomeKit was slow to take off after its 2014 launch, but now that it's been around for seven years, there are hundreds of HomeKit products available, ranging from doorbells and speakers to TVs, lights, and cameras. In our latest YouTube video, we rounded up some of our favorite HomeKit products that we find most useful. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. HomePod...
First Look Big Sur Feature2

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks

Thursday February 25, 2021 10:07 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2, the fourth update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November. macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 comes two weeks after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, a bug fix update. The new ‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.2.2‌ update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences....
iphone 12 pro display video

iPhone 13 to Include 1TB Storage Option and LiDAR Across the Board, Says Wedbush Analyst

Monday March 1, 2021 4:00 am PST by
Apple's forthcoming iPhone 13 could include a 1TB storage option for some models and LiDAR Scanners across the entire lineup, according to a report from Wedbush analysts. In a new note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said that initial Asian supply chain checks gave the firm "increased confidence" that Apple's 5G-driven product cycle would extend well into 2022,...
flat mbp 14 inch feature yellow

Redesigned 14-Inch MacBook Pro Expected to Feature Brighter Mini-LED Display With Slimmer Bezels and More

Thursday February 25, 2021 7:48 am PST by
Apple plans to unveil new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with Mini-LED-backlit displays in the second half of this year, according to industry sources cited by Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report claims that Radiant Opto-Electronics will be the exclusive supplier of the Mini-LED backlight units, while Quanta Computer is said to be tasked with final assembly of the...
mac mini developer transition kit photo feature

Apple Requiring Developers to Return DTK Mac Minis by March 31

Friday February 26, 2021 3:57 pm PST by
Apple today sent out emails to developers who are in possession of a Developer Transition Kit, asking them to return the machines by March 31. The Developer Transition Kits are Mac minis with A12Z chips that Apple provided for development purposes ahead of the release of the M1 Macs. Apple in the emails provided developers with shipping instructions, and plans to begin collecting the DTKs...
iphone 12 120hz thumbnail feature

Kuo: iPhone 13 Lineup to Feature Smaller Notch and Larger Batteries, 120Hz Display for Pro Models, and More

Monday March 1, 2021 7:50 am PST by
iPhone 13 models will all feature a smaller notch, while the two Pro models will be equipped with low-power LTPO display technology for a 120Hz refresh rate, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. Several other sources have previously claimed that some iPhone 13 models will support a 120Hz refresh rate, including display industry analyst Ross Young, leakers ...
unc0ver version 6 release

Jailbreak Tool 'unc0ver' 6.0.0 Released With iOS 14.3 Compatibility

Sunday February 28, 2021 9:26 am PST by
The team behind the "unc0ver" jailbreaking tool for iOS has released version 6.0.0 of its software, which can allegedly be used to jailbreak any device running iOS 11.0 through iOS 14.3 using a kernel vulnerability. The unc0ver website describes how the tool has been extensively tested across a range of iOS devices running various software versions, including an iPhone 12 Pro Max running iOS ...