M+E Daily

How Will iTunes Match Stack Up Against Streaming Services?

It’s still unclear whether iTunes Match will offer music streaming, despite a video clip (via Insanely Great Mac) demonstrating what appears to be a streaming function in Apple’s forthcoming service.

An Apple spokesperson tells All Things Digital that iTunes Match users will need to store songs on their iPad, iPhone, or computer after they access them from their cloud-based iTunes Match account. Even though it has released a beta for iTunes Match to developers, Apple is remaining cagey on whether the service requires actual downloads of songs to devices, or whether users will be able to store songs in a temporary cache, as Spotify Premium users can to play songs while in an offline mode.

We may have to wait until Apple’s fall introduction of iTunes Match to ascertain just how it stacks up against a paid streaming service such as Spotify Premium. But one fundamental difference between Apple and its streaming rivals is already evident.

Although Apple will charge an annual $25 fee for iTunes Match, customers will only be able to access music that they have purchased from iTunes (or acquired from elsewhere). This is in keeping with the access-upon-ownership model that Apple, in cooperation with studios, recently effected for television programming on iTunes.

Spotify Premium is more akin to the subscription model of Netflix: users pay $120 a year for unlimited streaming access to most any music in the company’s 15-million-song catalog. Users can supplement their Spotify playlists with music that they have acquired from iTunes or elsewhere (e.g., Beatles tracks); but Spotify does not offer even Premium users the ability to store music in a cloud-based streaming locker.