As you probably already know, iTunes Match is a paid service provided by Apple.

With iTunes Match, all your music — even songs you’ve imported from CDs — can be stored in iCloud. So you can access your music from all your devices and listen to your entire library, wherever you are.

I was wondering the technology behind iTunes Match works. How does it match the songs on your computer with the right ones on the iTunes Store?

1 Answer 1


In late 2009, Apple bought LaLa.com, a site that did pretty much what present day iTunes Match does.

It analyzed tracks you already owned, and allowed you to stream the ones you already had on your hard drive.

The way the technology works is by analyzing the waveform of the music file and matching it to an existing database of known song digital audio fingerprints.

Obviously, that's way oversimplifying, but the basic idea of why you don't have to upload a lot of your library, as iTunes Match and formerly LaLa.com have an existing db of song "fingerprints."

  • 3
    The older lala matching wasn't implemented the same way as the current one. For one, it was a separate program rather than being embedded within iTunes. Although they could have adopted similar strategies, it's not clear they didn't re-design it from scratch after learning from their first few attempts as well as having access to iTunes developers from the inside.
    – bmike
    Apr 10, 2012 at 20:09

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