The quick answer is yes. But there are some things you need to know before you delete your iTunes music library after initiating iTunes Match.
Let’s start from the beginning. iTunes Match is a new feature from Apple that utilizes iCloud to store all of your music. For $24.99 per year, you can upload all of your music to the cloud and then access that music any time you are connected to the Internet. You can also use your iPad, iPod, iPhone, or other computer with iTunes to access your entire music library at any time.
When you upload your music, you actually don’t upload your entire library, you only upload songs that iTunes does not have in their library. If iTunes has it in their library, you will be hearing that copy. Why have a million copies of a song when one is all you need? What’s great is that the iTunes version is in 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality, which may be better than the version you have on your computer. So think of iTunes Match as matching your music library to the existing library in the cloud. If you have music that is not in the library, it is added.
What you need to know before you delete your music
Second, after you have completed the iTunes Match process, and before you delete all of your music, be sure you back up your music library to an external drive. If you are using Time Machine to back up your computer, your music library will be on that backup. I’d even suggest doing another backup of your music to be safe. You can usually find your entire library by clicking on these folders Music > iTunes > iTunes Media > Music.
Second, if you delete your songs, they will not be available when you are not connected to the Internet. You can always easily add them back, but just know that you won’t be able to listen to these songs when you are on your international flight with no Internet connection.
Deleting your music
When you are ready to delete your music, highlight the songs you’d like to delete (do a command + A to select all), and then simply press the delete key. You will be given the option to Delete the Song with a checkbox to also delete the song from iCloud. Don’t check the iCloud box unless you want that song to disappear. If you just push the button to “Delete Song,” the song will be deleted from your computer, freeing up space.
After you click the Delete Song button, another option will come up to Keep File or Move to Trash. Keeping the file will keep the file on your computer within your files. It will remove it from iTunes, but it will still be in your files. Moving the File to trash will remove the file from your computer. It will still be in the iCloud where you can access it from any devices, but it will not be on your local computer.
You can delete your entire music library if you plan to access all of your music in the cloud. That’s what I did because I use a MacBook Air with limited hard drive space. I was able to remove all of my music but still access all of it through iTunes Match and the cloud.
Once you have deleted your library and you decide to add some of that music back to your local computer, simply click the cloud-looking icon next to your song and the song will begin downloading immediately.
To use iTunes Match on your mobile device, enable iTunes Match under the Music settings on your iPod, iPad, or iPhone. For your computer, initiate iTunes Match within iTunes to access the library associated with your Apple username. You only pay for iTunes Match once per account no matter how many devices will access that music.
One incredible feature is that the music is instantly available in the cloud once you purchase it or burn it to your computer. For instance, I just burned a new cd to my computer and was able to access that cd from my iPhone immediately after it loaded on my computer. I was pretty impressed with that.