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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

AT&T + iTunes Match = Bummer (And a Workaround)

Posted by on Wed, Dec 5, 2012 at 8:55 AM

A few months back, I signed up for iTunes Match ($24.99 a year), the service that backs up your iTunes library to the Cloud and allows you to stream your music or stream and download your music to your device. Also, my mobile service provider is AT&T.*

So here's the problem: With Match enabled, every time you sync your iPhone to your computer, Match wipes the slate clean. Whatever you bothered to download last time you were out and about or before last time you left the house gets zapped back up into the Cloud—reverse lightning. Then next time you go out into the concrete gymnasium, you have to stream all your tunes. And because you're streaming with AT&T, your tunes sputter, cough, and wheeze their way into your ears. It's a lousy way to experience music on the go, which is one of the most pleasing times to listen to the stuff. It's a cost of convenience.

I'd rather curate my mobile library occasionally, when the mood or inspiration strikes. It's almost not worth the peace of mind facilitated by knowing your entire library is backed up, with redundancies. (Apple states that if you cancel your subscription, you get all your songs back.)

So after I spent several months and several paragraphs whining about this, I decided to look into it (such is, sadly, the same way I approach many minor annoyances in life.) and the workaround, thankfully, is very simple. Turn off Match on your phone, and manually manage what music goes on it. Your library is still backed up (assuming it's not just on your phone), and you get the songs you want with no stream stalling. Now then, what else can I complain about?

Okay, I wrote the first half of this post, like, last week. The fix didn't work! Verdict: STUPID. There is an option "Sync only checked songs and videos," but the default mode checks the things when you import them to iTunes. Who wants to go through their entire library and uncheck everything they don't want to hear when they go out for a trip. Then, this happened, and then, two days later, this godamn shit happened.

If there's a non-stupid way to decide when you want to sync your stuff, I take this all back. Except the part where it should be way more intuitive. If you know this way, kindly chime in. Also, who's backed up their music library to a cloud and is happy with their experience? Chime in in the comments section.

*If you're not familiar, AT&T provides notoriously subpar cellular/digital coverage.


Comments (9) RSS

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T 1
Switch to Android.
Posted by T on December 5, 2012 at 10:12 AM · Report this
Maybe I don't understand what you're doing, but it works great for me, mostly.

1) Subscribe to Match, and iTunes matches or uploads everything.
2) Now, there is no syncing of music between your iPhone and iTunes. In iTunes, it should say "iTunes Match is on" under the music tab when you look at the iPhone.
3) Simply open the music app on the iPhone, and hit download (the cloud icon with the down arrow) on anything and it'll be downloaded to your phone. Do this before you leave the house; pretend you are syncing with iTunes if you have to.
4) Plugging into iTunes should not delete anything. At least not anything you've downloaded this way. This is the thing I don't understand about your experience. Maybe wipe all the music from the phone and fresh with (1)?

Also, in Settings/Music you can make the phone show you only the music that's actually downloaded to it, so you don't have to see your whole library at once.

There is one, new, minor annoyance. You used to be able to delete shit on the phone too, so you could control what space is used for what and exactly what was on the phone. Now you can't, in iOS 6. It will just delete the things you haven't played in the longest time if you happen to run out of space.
Posted by senor chris on December 5, 2012 at 11:31 AM · Report this
BTW if you want to start fresh on the device, Settings/General/Usage/Music and you can delete all the local music in one click.
Posted by senor chris on December 5, 2012 at 11:36 AM · Report this
warreno 4
To add to senor chris @2, if you've got media on your phone that you retrieved through its built in iTunes or 'app' stores, you can explicitly transfer those to your desktop machine by right-clicking the device's icon in iTunes (desktop) and selecting 'transfer purchases'.

I've got things working reasonably well on my pad and phone - and I even have two different desktop machines I'm syncing them out with, one at home and one at work. I got that to function by taking the HD containing my library from home, copying it onto my library at work, and proceeding as normal.

I don't think I've seen Match (or iTunes) delete music from my device in a very long time.

Also, senor chris - I believe if you turn off Match on your iPhone, you can then delete songs manually. (Might take a restart after you do.)

There are definitely some problems to shake out with iTunes, syncing, and Match, though. No argument there.
Posted by warreno on December 5, 2012 at 12:27 PM · Report this
douchus 5
#2 and #4 - wat?
Posted by douchus on December 5, 2012 at 3:50 PM · Report this
pfffter 6
Why do you need to synch at all with your computer? I never synch my phone with my computer. No problems.
Posted by pfffter on December 5, 2012 at 4:03 PM · Report this
bunnypuncher 7
I've been wondering about how well this works as I have way too much music on my computer (I've been compressing it down to 128kbps to put on my 160g iPod, which is now full). I have an iPhone and am on Verizon with unlimited data, so this seemed intriguing...
Posted by bunnypuncher on December 5, 2012 at 10:06 PM · Report this
Josh Bis 8
yeah. I'm not sure that I understand the issue -- it sounds like maybe iTunes Match just isn't turned on for your iPhone?
Posted by Josh Bis on December 6, 2012 at 12:08 AM · Report this
Grant Brissey, Emeritus 9
@ bunnypuncher: If you've got Verizon and unlimited bandwidth, I'd say go for it. To everyone else: Basically, streaming your biz on AT&T sucks, unless you've downloaded it first. Downloading it requires data usage. I sync my phone for calendar/reminders purposes. iTunes should have have an option that allows you to easily decide what music you want to sync, not what music you don't want to sync. I just worked a really long day, and I'm pretty sure I lost the ability to read. Good night.
Posted by Grant Brissey, Emeritus on December 6, 2012 at 1:16 AM · Report this

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