iTunes Match vs Google Play Music

These days there are a lot of ways to listen to music. Subscription-based music streaming services like Spotify are becoming more popular every day. People do not purchase music as much as before, but almost everybody already have a personal collection of favorite music stored somewhere. There are many services that let you upload the existing music libraries to the cloud and stream it from there. My favorites and probably the most popular are iTunes Match and Google Play Music.

Why Store Music in the Cloud?

First of all, you might ask: "Why store music in the cloud?"

These are just some of advantages of storing music in the cloud:

  • Automatic syncing without need to connect devices
  • Thanks to ability to stream, you save the storage space, especially on mobile devices
  • Playlists, ratings and other useful information are always fresh on all devices.
  • Better audio quality for music with low bitrate
  • Convenient access almost from anywhere
  • Even if you lost your device, your music is always safely backed up

So, what service should you use? No matter how great a service can be, this choice is hugely depending on your hardware. If you have an Android device, it is meaningless to even think about using iTunes Match. But if you have an iPhone, you can use both of the services on your iOS devices. This post is for people like me, who use the hardware from Apple, but are open to alternative solutions when it comes to software.

Fundamental Difference

Before comparing the two services, it is important to understand the difference between the general approach of Google and Apple. All Google services, including the Play Music, are based on web technologies, so there are no traditional native apps for Mac or PC. On the other hand, Apple’s approach is based on native applications, without ability to access your music through the web interface. We will talk about the accessibility of both services a little bit later.

Uploading

Both Google Play Music and iTunes Match are providing the music matching service, which automatically determines which songs in your personal collection are available in Google Play Music Store or iTunes Music Store, and add them to your Cloud library without uploading of the actual file. It helps to save a lot of time when uploading your music to the cloud.

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 7.54.41 PM.png

In my personal experience, iTunes Match matched much more songs from my collection and it took less time than Google Play Music. In addition, I noticed that Google Play Music often matches the wrong versions of songs. There is an option to fix the wrong match, but it will have to upload the mismatched songs again. It is also worth to mention that both iTunes Match and Google Play Music upgrade the quality of the matched songs to AAC 256 Kbps (iTunes) / MP3 320 Kbps (Google).

In case of iTunes Match, uploading is performed through the iTunes app on your Mac or PC. For Google Play Music, you can upload your music using the Music Manager or directly from the Google Play Music website.

Organizing

Organizing of the music collection is easy and straightforward in both of services, but thanks to iTunes desktop app, organizing process in iTunes is more stable and faster. The Google Play Music website provides all basic organizing options, but lacks some of advanced functionality of iTunes.

iTunes 11 for Mac

iTunes 11 for Mac

Google Play Music Web app

Google Play Music Web app

Accessibility

iTunes Match is only working on devices with iTunes installed, which are : Mac OS, iOS and Windows devices. If you want to listen to your music library on Android or Windows phone device, iTunes Match is certainly not for you. On the other hand, Google Play Music is more universal solution. Even though it lacks the native apps on some platforms, you can always access the service using any modern web browser. Google provides the native apps only for mobile devices running iOS or Android.

Android app

Android app

iOS app

iOS app

Availability

Absence of the native apps for desktop operating systems is a huge blow if your internet connection is unstable or you often have to use your computer offline. As of today, there is no way to listen to your music collection in Google Play Music without the internet. Opposite to Google Music, iTunes lets you download any songs or albums you need for offline listening. 

Overall Stability and Performance

Google Play Music web app has improved a lot in recent years, and the same can be said about the apps for Android and iOS. I rarely noticed any stability or performance issues using it. As for iTunes, it was always one of the best apps for Mac or Windows. There was a time when I thought that iTunes became too feature heavy and complex to use for simple listening of music, but after Apple introduced iTunes 11, these concerns have disappeared.

Space & Price

iTunes Match lets you upload up to 25,000 songs, while Google Play Music is limiting you to 20,000 songs. At first, it may seam as iTunes is much better offer, but when you consider that Apple is charging you $25 a year, and Google don't charge you anything at all, it turns out that Google Play Music offers even better deal.

Conclusion

If you use only the Apple devices, iTunes Match is still a better choice for you. Google Play Music is improving very fast, and its iOS and Chrome apps are making it a very good alternative to iTunes, but it still can't beat iTunes Match on its home turf.