30 Comments

Summary:

Apple wants us to think they are doing us all a favor with the introduction of iTunes Plus a while back.  That’s the option in the iTunes Music Store where you can remove the DRM on songs you have already bought “for a small fee.”  This […]

Apple wants us to think they are doing us all a favor with the introduction of iTunes Plus a while back.  That’s the option in the iTunes Music Store where you can remove the DRM on songs you have already bought “for a small fee.”  This is a great idea and I can guarantee you I won’t be buying any DRM-infested tunes from Apple in the future.

The big problem with iTunes Plus is how it hits Apple’s best customers so hard, as the “small fee” for each song quickly adds up.  How much can it add up to?

itunes-drm-upgrade

Ouch.  Ouch.  Ouch.  Granted I don’t have to upgrade to iTunes Plus, or I can choose to just upgrade a few songs (and albums), but that won’t make things much easier.  I can play all of these DRM-infested songs in iTunes and on my iPhone no problem, but I use multiple phones and I really want my whole music library available on them all.

If I start picking and choosing songs to “liberate,” then I have to start some major bookkeeping to do to keep track of which have DRM and which are “real music.”  What is amazing to me is how much money I have spent in the iTunes Music Store over the years.  Ouch.  Ouch.  Ouch.  Fool me once (with DRM), shame on you Apple.  Fool me twice (iTunes Plus fee), shame on me.

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  1. but you know how to get rid of any DRM for free, i think.

  2. I upgraded my iTunes library right after they offered it, but my total so far has only been around $80 dollars. That being said, I stopped buying from iTunes a while back and have been using Amazon MP3 exclusively for my music purchases (which are of course DRM free).

    Just so you know, they are still in the process of upgrading the entire iTunes library, so you may go back later and find more songs/albums available for you to upgrade.

  3. I’m actually glad that I didn’t jump on the iTunes bandwagon. I remember hemming and hawing for years and not even getting an iPod until 2006. Luckily, I had oodles of CDs to rip and only bought three iTunes albums. Since Amazon opened up the MP3 store with no DRM, that’s been my primary new music source.

    With 55 albums (or greater as more of them become eligible) in your collection, I say see if the kids want to earn $50 to rip your CDs. ;)

  4. Yah James – a third shame on you for not hearing Kevin on this :)
    I would just remove the DRM freely though. The ethics here are non existent for me personally if I have bought it from them in the first place. Same as I would jailbreak my iPhone.
    Though its all theoretical as I dislike Apple in the past 4 years more than I have ever disliked MS in their evil-empire days.

  5. Just be thankful you weren’t one of the poor suckers who signed up for this immediately after the option was made available. For the first few weeks, the only option was to “upgrade” your entire library in one blow.

  6. Amazon rocks!! I’ve never purchased a single song from itunes. In fact I despise itunes, it’s got that horrible Mac-esque feel to it.

    I’m a huge proponent of Amazon music, no DRM and no hassle, and the price is right.

  7. For the record, I am purchasing music from Amazon too. These iTunes purchased songs were grabbed years ago over a long period of time. I’m stuck with the DRM for the moment.

  8. And for the record the DRM wasn’t Apple’s fault: the record labels insisted on it. Then the record labels tried to dislodge Apple by giving Amazon DRM free music. Now finally the record labels have thrown in the towel and we the consumers are paying the price for their past decisions.

    You can use the unix find command to account your DRM percentage. DRM’d songs end .m4p and are converted to .m4a. I’ve still got 1412 songs to go myself and have already ponied up for several thousand (you think you’re going ouch ouch ouch!)

    By the way, iTunes will only pick them up 250 at a pass. Then you have to manually kick it to go get another 250.

    On the upside though my newly freed music now plays on my growing Sony fleet: PS3, PSP, PRS-700, Vaio P XMB bar. I’ve also been able to toss some music on my brand new HTC Fuze.

    So some pain in the pocket book matched with happiness in how broad the reach for my collection is now becoming. I’ve also been very happy with the higher quality as well. The new DRM free iTunes songs are higher quality than the Amazon MP3’s (AAC is better than MP3.)

  9. If the only advantage to iTunes Plus was being DRM-free, I’d agree it’s not worth it for any track. However, the sound quality from the higher bit rate is noticeably better even played through a cassette adapter in my car (not to mention the home stereo). For the select songs I upgraded, I think it was worth it. But I definitely will not be upgrading the bulk of my iTunes purchases (which doesn’t even approach yours, James), and I wouldn’t have upgraded any if I listened primarily on headphones.

    1. I’m impressed that you can tell the difference! iTunes Plus uses 256kbps AAC while Amazon uses a variable rate where they try to average the same 256kbps bitrate with MP3.

    2. Yeah, I wasn’t sure I was actually hearing a difference or imagining it, so I did a test against something for which I had multiple points of reference.

      In the opening riff for “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” there’s an off note (not sure if that’s the right term) that I remember from back when I had the CD (which was stolen) and a serious stereo. I can’t hear it in the DRM’d iTunes version, but I can spot it in the Plus version.

      But again, that’s with a good stereo. It’s hard to spot listening to my wife’s car’s stereo and impossible in my car. I probably couldn’t hear it on headphones (at least not my regular ones). And of course, that song is richly layered and complex, which means there’s a lot to lose in compression. It’d be another story if I was listening to, say, the Jonas Brothers.

  10. Most of all the other music stores online had and many still have DRM on their music. This is NOT an Apple only issue. In fact Apple is not the one who wanted DRM on these tracks, the content owners did. Maybe aiming your frustration at the correct place would be better served and more accurate. The record labels forced DRM down our throats, Apple made the best of this under the circumstances, WELL BEFORE Amazon MP3 existed! DRM sucks and has only led to more pirating. Hopefully moving forward we may now finally say goodbye to DRM for music tracks at least.

    1. So you’re saying that Apple didn’t benefit from the DRM’ed tunes being locked to Apple hardware, and only the record labels wanted it? Interesting. Given Apple’s clout, how come Amazon was able to release non-DRMed songs way before Apple?

      I haven’t bought a single DRM’ed song. Anywhere. I have way too many CDs that I don’t listen often enough to anyway, so my ripped collection is plenty. Are there even any good songs getting released these days? ;)

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