I've accumulated a lot of music over the years. At last count my library had just over 10,000 songs, although in fairness there are plenty of duplicates and less desirable songs that I am slowly weeding out. Most of that library consists of music ripped from my extensive CD collection, plenty of online trading, and yes... even some legally purchased iTunes tracks.
When Apple began offering their Music Match service a few years ago, it was like a dream come true. For $27/year I could upload my entire collection to their iCloud, even songs I hadn't purchased from iTunes. Those songs would be available to me at all times - as long as I had an internet connection to access them. That $27/year is still one of my best purchases.
In addition to music songs, I've also accumulated a decent collection of music videos - 354 to be exact. I sometimes like to put music videos on while I'm putting around the house or working on something. I get more value from a $2 music video than any movie I could buy. The fact that everything is stored in the cloud is a bonus. I don't have to load my phone up with these files. I can set the phone in a stand, connect to wifi, and have access to my entire collection.
Or can I?
Last week I noticed that Katie Perry - Waking Up in Vegas had a strange icon beside it. When I clicked to play, it told me that it was temporarily unavailable. I tried a few others, and they were ok, but not this one. I went to the iTunes Store to see if I could download it... the music video was nowhere to be found! There was a dance version and a live version, but not the original. It was no longer available in the iTunes Store!
But I had paid for it! Where was it? I could understand if it was a song that I had ripped and used the Music Match service to save in the cloud... but this was something that I had paid Apple for. It should still be in their store!
I contacted Apple support and explained the situation. I also mentioned that I would have to go through the other videos and see if any others were missing. I probably should have done that before contacting them in the first place, but oh well.
The answer I got back sucked... The file was no longer available in the store, and they would give me a music video credit to compensate me for my inconvenience. But I don't want my money back! I want my video. Really. It's one of my favourite videos. Yes, I can watch it on YouTube or Vevo for free, but that's not the point. I paid for it. It was part of my collection, and I don't want to bounce around different services. I want it all in one library. Mine.
Apple Support recommended backing up all my videos to my computer or an external drive. Seriously? I thought that storing my files in the cloud was the ultimate backup solution, and their answer is to make a local backup because things in the store can change and what I own now might not be available tomorrow.
It's hard to blame Apple. Any of these services would be similarly affected. They don't have much control if an artist or label wants to pull content from their stores. It does raise the question of movies though. What happens if Apple and Disney got into an argument and Disney wanted to pull their titles from the iTunes Store? Would I lose all my Marvel movies? Sure they are backed up now, but again... that's not the point.
To take it one step further, apparently a media file doesn't even have to be removed for it to become unavailable. When I went back and looked at my remaining music videos, I noticed two more missing... David Guetta's Without You.. and Madonna's Confessions Tour. With You is gone. No longer in the iTunes Store. But the Confessions Tour IS still there. Unfortunately when I tried to download, it prompted me to pay for it again.
Apple's explanation? When an item is modified in the iTunes Store or removed entirely, we no longer have access to the original one that you ordered.
Well that sucks. And even though they credited me two more music videos, the concert was a $10 movie. I'm not going to press the point because they probably don't have to even reimburse me, but it sure has made me question if I want to put any more money into the iTunes Store.