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My iPhone is set to manually manage my music, and I'd prefer to keep it that way. However, I also like some of the features that iTunes Match offers. Is there any way that I can enable Match on my phone, download what I need, and then disable it again without it deleting my existing, manually-copied music?

(The reason I don't want to switch to iTunes Match full-on is a) I have a lot of unique masterings and recordings that iTunes Match will match generically, b) I listen to a lot of one-off tracks that I don't want stored permanently, and c) it feels wrong that I can't copy music from my computer if I so wish, even if my phone is plugged into it.)

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3 Answers

Note that iTunes Match is fairly precise in how it matches songs. A unique recording will probably be uploaded, not matched -- certainly, if the unique recording has a different length than the standard ones, it won't be matched. If you are willing to potentially lose $25, get iTunes Match and see what is matched. If stuff that you want to be uploaded is matched instead, don't use iTunes Match.

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You could turn Match on on your computer and not on the iPhone. That would allow you to keep manually managing your music on the phone.

Ultimately, though, it seems like iTunes Match is not a good match for the way you use music, particularly the "unique masterings and recordings". If you've got $25 to burn and you're willing to experiment, back up your library (and iTunes preferences) and turn it on. If your music disappears or comes back in a way you don't want it, turn Match off and restore your library and preferences.

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The main reason I want to use iTunes Match is to download stuff I don't currently have on my iPhone on the go, so turning it on in iTunes Match isn't really an option. I already bought it and now I'm trying to figure out if there's some obscure trick I missed to let me keep my old files. –  Archagon Feb 29 '12 at 22:31
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You could investigate how Match does its matching and change some part of the song file's metadata (track name, album name, maybe both) so it doesn't match to the server and you keep your specialized copy. I'm not sure what parts of the name it uses as the key. –  CajunLuke Feb 29 '12 at 22:35
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When you enable iTunes Match on your iPhone, the music you already copied manually to your iPhone will stay on you iPhone. iOS will only delete tracks if/when there's not enough storage on your iPhone anymore. So if you make sure to leave a big enough part of your iPhone storage free, the songs you copied manually should stay on your iPhone.

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I thought this was the case as well, but my tracks were deleted. Not sure why. –  Archagon Mar 6 '12 at 22:50
    
When I activated iTunes match on my iPhone, it told that all songs would be deleted from the iPhone if i proceed. And they were deleted. –  Martin Apr 13 '12 at 14:43
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