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Now that iTunes Match is out of beta, anyone (not just paid developers) can sign up to pay $25 and have Apple store your music for you. So why would you do this? I mean, if the music is on your computer, you’re already storing it yourself. And of course, you’re backing it up like Calvin has warned you to, right?

There are still some reasons you might want to pop for iTunes Match. For one, it does give you yet another backup for your music. If something should happen (like a fire) you can at least re-download everything you had in iTunes. You can do that now without paying anything, but only for the things you bought in iTunes. The $25 per year is to cover uploading and maintaining the songs you got elsewhere (such as ripped form CD).

Another reason? If you’ve got an iPod/iPhone/iPad that can’t hold all your music at once, you can load them up with some of your music (or none for that matter) and just download songs as you want to listen to them. Of course, this means you’ll need an Internet connection, and you probably won’t want to do a lot of heavy downloading on a capped phone data plan. Even on a an unlimited plan, it’s going to be a bit slow (although you can listen to songs as you download others).

One more reason is to upgrade some of your music. I still have a little over 40 songs that are still listed as “Protected AAC” – meaning 128 kbps, DRM protected songs. These are songs I would have paid to upgrade to 256 kbps/DRM-free, but Apple never offered them. All but 3 of them are available in the iTunes store. So instead, I’m using iTunes Match to get the higher bitrate, DRM-free versions.

I already had a Smart Playlist of AAC Protected songs. I added the columns “iCloud Status” and “iCloud Download” to the list view. In the Status you will see status of “Matched,”  “Purchased,” and “Uploaded.” Anything marked “Uploaded” was not found in the store, so you can’t upgrade those. But you can upgrade the other two.

Once you have identified the files to upgrade, you need to remove all those songs from your library (I chose to remove from the library only and not trash them). It’s important you don’t also remove them from iCloud (you’ll be asked if you want to). Then you can click on the cloud symbol that appears in the “iCloud Download” column (it’s labeled with a cloud instead of text) and download a new copy of the song. This copy will be 256 kbps and DRM free.

A cautionary note before you activate iTunes Match on your portable device – as soon as you do, all of you music will be wiped from the device! You’ll still see the entries there, each now with a cloud next to them, so that you can download them. So if you already have all your music on your device, don’t bother with iTunes Match. Note that activating on the desktop doesn’t whack anything.

And now from the mixed message department:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGM8PT1eAvY&ob=av2e

(I originally got this song from Weird Al’s site, where there was a convenient download link..but now I have a copy from iTunes since I later bought the album.)

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