Last week I had an interesting conversation with a co-worker. She had taken in her laptop to Apple. Apple restored her laptop but it wiped her iTunes library and she was confused as she assumed she'd get her music back. She doesn't have Apple Music or Match but he did get some of it back. She only has the free iCloud 5 GB library which was sufficient to restore most of her docs and the rest were on cloud services like Google Drive (as our office uses Google Drive). Add in another layer, Apple allows all music purchases to be redownloaded but doesn't extend the service to users without buying match. While hardly an Apple apologist, my knee jerk reaction was "Well, yeah, you have to pay for it". However, I kept thinking about it after the conversation. Expectations being what they are, media is no longer finite. It lives and always lives: Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Netflix, HBOGo, Hulu, Audible, Amazon Kindle, Apple Photos, Google Photos. While we do not expect physical books, CD/Vinyls, DVDs, Blu-Rays, Photo albums to magically exist in vast media centers, the cloud hype has given an strangly disconnected permanently ephemeral (ephemerally permanent?) quality to digital media; that it should be forgotten until remembered. Google already gives away music / photo storage for free, and Amazon does as part of it's mostly buried Prime services so why doesn't Apple?
iTunes has been a mess for years now and there's been a cottage industry of music purists who've abandoned iTunes, with utilities like Waltr, PhoneView, iMazing, and the music players Swinsian, Tomahawk and Vox Music Player. Perhaps match should be the driver to keep people in the iTunes sphere.
While it's nothing new to point out the brokenness of iTunes, iTunes Match should be a killer feature provided for free with iTunes long as you're using an Apple ID as a free service or included as a bonus for anyone who pays for iCloud regardless of storage tier. It's confusing and disjointed for the average user.