iTunes (in the Cloud): With iTunes, everything you purchase (movies, apps, songs etc) is associated with your account, and you can re-download it at any point (from iTunes App or iTunes) on any device you’ve accessed iTunes from and signed in (limit ~ 10 devices / account). You can also enable automatic downloads, so that any time you buy something from iTunes, it automatically downloads to your other iOS devices (over wifi only and/or 3G/Lte). So if you want access to your iTunes purchased music only (no playlists), you’re all set with just an iTunes account.
iTunes Match: Gives you everything you get with iTunes in the Cloud, but also the ability to upload any personal music and make it available (in the Music App) to any other iOS device you’ve activated iTunes Match on. Will also sync playlists across devices. Cost: $24.99 / year. Song limit (little more than Google Music/Play free 20,000): 25,000 songs. Things to consider: some have said iTunes Match won’t match all their music...some tracks “ineligible” due to large size (over 200 MB) or low encoding rate (less than 96 Kbps). Others have said their playlists won’t sync if they contain any ineligible tracks. When I uploaded my songs I had one ineligible track, which for some reason, even though it was downloaded from Amazon MP3 Store, was encoded at 8 kbps. Step by Step Fix for Re-encoding to higher Bit Rate. Finally, for $10/month, I’ll gladly pay Spotify to give me online/offline access to any song I want (3333 offline songs on up to three different devices...each w option to have different 3333 songs). One big advantage to iTunes Match over Spotify, Pandora, and Jango: Since Apple locks down it’s iOS, almost all iOS Apps reference the (iTunes) Music App when pulling in music for project creation.
iCloud: All the benefits of iTunes in Cloud with service that backs up your device settings and files (Apps, Documents, Safari, Calendar, Contacts, Mail, iBooks, Find My iPad/iPhone, Backup and Restore, Photo Streams) and syncing across multiple devices with one user. Be careful setting up iCloud Mail - you will likely not be able to change your iCloud email address in the future (even though you can make it a secondary email address) PC Setup Mac Setup iOS Setup
Enabling iTunes Match:
1. Create an iTunes account and download it to your PC / Mac
2. On the PC or Mac where you have your personal music and installed iTunes, move all music to the Music folder on Mac or PC (above all, have it centralized and not on an external drive if possible)
3. Activate iTunes Match through iTunes on the device (probably Mac or PC) where you have stored your music...
4. iTunes will scan your computer and look for music to match from iTunes, or upload if it can’t find a match. What I noticed is that it didn’t find all the music at first...I had to open all the music in iTunes once initially and then update iTunes Match (from iTunes - Store - Update iTunes Match)
5. Activate iTunes Match on individual iOS devices (Settings - iTunes & App Stores, and Settings - Music...both should show iTunes Match On and Show All Music On)
6. Open Music App on your iOS device and you should see all your cloud music appear....though it will be slightly grayed out to indicate it’s in the cloud at that point on not on the individual device
7. After you click on a track to play it, the track will stream and download to the device simultaneously, so when wifi is off at a later time, you notice the music you’ve already pulled from the cloud is still available for offline playback
Troubleshooting Tips for iTunes Match
At some point, you may want to delete downloaded tracks from your iOS device to free up space or pull in different music.
In theory, it's this easy. In reality, at least on iOS 6, I seemed to only have an all or nothing solution: on the iOS device, go to Settings – General – Usage – Music, ‘Edit’ and Delete all music.
Life is short, Enjoy the Music :)