Apple made a major improvement to its digital music service today as it introduced iTunes Match. For $24.99 a year, iTunes will scan a user’s mobile gadget or hard drive, identify its recordings — including those copied from a CD — and then make them available on iCloud for streaming to any Web-enabled device running iTunes software. The company says iTunes already has 20M songs, and will upload “only what it can’t match.”
The announcement precedes Google’s expected unveiling tomorrow of its own music store. It will enable buyers to download tunes, and stream them from remote servers. The company also has been lobbying record companies to make it possible for members of the Google+ social network to share tunes with their online friends. EMI has agreed to offer songs from its catalog on the music store, and Vivendi’s Universal Music “may be signed as early as tomorrow,” Bloomberg reports. The other two majors, Sony and Warner Music, are holding back until pricing and privacy concerns are resolved.