Apple’s iCloud is no safe haven for some iTunes purchases

With today’s devices, there simply is not enough room to store a sizable music library and have enough space left over to do other tasks. The new Macbook Air starts out with as little as a 128GB SSD, iPads can be purchased with only 16GB of internal memory and you can still get an iPhone with just 8GB of space.

Enter iTunes Match. iTunes Match was designed to store your entire music collection in iCloud, even music you’ve imported from CDs or purchased somewhere other than iTunes. With it you can store up to 25,000 songs in iCloud (more if songs are purchased from the iTunes Store), only what you play or download is stored on your device. It sounds like a perfect solution, but there is a catch.

Music you purchase from Apple via iTunes will remain in your iTunes Match music library so long as Apple has the right to continue selling the music. As soon as the music label pulls any song or album from the iTunes Music Store, Apple will remove it from your iTunes Match Library as well. Not only that, but you will no longer be able to re-download your previously purchased music from your iTunes Store account.

iTunes Match Error

This has recently happened to me when a series of albums that I purchased from the iTunes Music Store disappeared from my iTunes Match music library. I tried logging in to my iTunes account and to see if I could re-download the music from the list of prior purchases but the albums were gone. The response that I got from Apple’s iTunes customer support team was that the music label must have modified the albums in some way, or pulled the albums from the store then added them back to the store with a new ID.

I understand that you are not seeing the songs on the list, I’m afraid to inform you that the items may no longer be available or if they are still available on the store, they have been modified by the content providers since you have purchased them.  I understand the inconvenience of this case, however, we won’t be able to make the songs available for you to download again. – iTunes Store Customer Support

What is really bothersome about the whole thing is that these were albums that I previously accessed via iTunes Match; songs I thought were stored in my iCloud music library. But since they were purchased from iTunes and not uploaded, they were not really in my iCloud music library to begin with. If I would have subscribed to iTunes Match after the purchased songs were removed from the iTunes Music Store, they would have been uploaded to my iTunes Match library and I would still be able to listen to them.

Rather than think of iTunes Match as online storage solution for your purchased music, think of it more like having access to a colossal lending library for music. So long as Apple has the rights to sell the music you want to listen to, you will be able to listen to it. Learn from my mistake and be sure to back up all of your iTunes purchases to some sort of external storage device shortly after making each purchase.