Upgrading Your iTunes Music with iTunes Match


Many years ago now, I set out on a long journey to digitize my entire CD collection and store that music in iTunes. The process took about a year! In those days in the last century, hard drive space was much more expensive, and the standard quality (called bit rate) most people ripped their CDs was low to avoid consuming disk space. The music still sounded fine on most computer speakers and in inexpensive ear buds; so, no one much noticed or cared. Being able to take 1,000 songs with you anywhere was so cool it outweighed the downside. Choosing a bit rate (quality) of 96 kbpswas not uncommon, but I seemed to generally use 128 kbps. Today, however, 256 kbps seems to be the standard. I had 4,639 songs in my iTunes library that were below the higher 256 kbps bit rate.

I’m still working my way through this whole iCloud and iTunes Match thing, but I thought that once you signed up for iTunes Match, iTunes would automatically replace all of your older, lower quality music with higher quality versions it had matched with their music library in the sky. Not so. You have to do this yourself. Special thanks to MacWorld for this articleon how to do it. The process wasn’t difficult at all, and I learned some cool things that I didn’t know before.

Here’s what I did:

  1. After making certain that my entire library was in sync with the iCloud Match server, I created a smart playlistto find all of the music in my library that qualified for upgrading to the free (after you pay the $25 iTunes Match fee–a good deal since paying 30 cents to upgrade each individual song would have cost me almost $1,392!).
    Low but Matched - iTunes Smart Playlist Criteria
    Click to enlarge.
  2. By selecting all of the music in the smart playlist and option clicking (Mac) the highlighted files, I deleted all of the music that met the above criteria but made certain not to check “Also delete this song from iCloud”.
  3. I then selected all of the files again (They still appear because they still live in the iCloud.) and control clicked the list and selected “Download“. iTunes dutifully begins downloading the new, higher quality versions of all of the lower quality ripped music.

Here’s what I learned that I didn’t know:

  • You don’t lose any of the meta data associated with each file such as rating, last played date, and play counts! Awesome.
  • When creating a smart playlist, you can create sub-conditional statements by option clicking the plus button to add a new sub condition! I have wanted to be able to do this before and thought it couldn’t be done. So the smart playlist pictured above will match all of the 2 top criteria and then match any of the two bottom criteria. In other words, you can mix “all” criteria and “any” criteria in the same smart playlist!

Again, for more detailed information about how to do this, consult the Macworld article linked above.