updated 09:30 pm EST, Mon December 9, 2013
Allows more than 25,000 songs to be stored, streamed in virtual 'music locker'
The iTunes Match service, a yearly-subscription service from Apple that allows users to store and stream more than 25,000 songs from their own library (regardless of original source) has arrived in four new Nordic countries. Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden now have access to the service, which costs 249 Krona (between $38-45 US depending on the country) or €25 ($34.40) in Finland. All four countries also gain iTunes in the Cloud, which allows re-downloading of any iTunes Store purchases.
iTunes Match in Denmark
The change hints that updates are also coming to the remaining Nordic country that currently lacks the service, Iceland. Currently, Icelanders only have iTunes in the Cloud access for purchased apps and books, rather than music or other purchases. Other countries, such as Japan, have music available through iTunes in the Cloud but cannot subscribe to iTunes Match yet. Most countries where Apple sells music have access to both, but there are still some other exceptions due to the complicated issues of rights and royalties.
The iTunes Match service requires a $25 annual fee from which a portion goes to paying the artists or rights holder a licensing fee for streaming each time the song is re-downloaded. In addition, the service can be used to "legitimize" pirated music, replacing illegally-gotten songs with legal iTunes copies (DRM-free at 256kbit in AAC format -- often a significant improvement on both older iTunes songs and pirated copies). Songs purchased through iTunes don't count against the 25,000 song limit, meaning collections accessible through the service can conceivably be much larger.
The initial matching process usually takes only a few minutes, since iTunes Match doesn't actually upload any songs unless it cannot find them in the existing multi-million-song iTunes Store inventory. Most competing services require users to upload their entire collections, a long process that uses up considerable bandwidth on their Internet connections.
The iTunes in the Cloud service, which provides availability for users to re-download any song they've purchased from iTunes, is a separate free service that complements, but is not part of, iTunes Match. Subscribers to iTunes Match also enjoy an ad-free version of iTunes Radio, though the latter service is currently only available in the United States.