iTunes Removes dRM from Music Store

On Tuesday, Apple announced that 8 million tracks in the iTunes store are now available in iTunes Plus format – meaning no digital rights management protection, and 256 KBPS, twice the bit rate of music with DRM – and that the remaining 2 million tracks will be available in this format by the end of March. This means that you will soon be able to play any music you purchase from the iTunes store on any player that can handle the AAC format. If your player can’t play AAC files, you can use iTunes to convert your tracks to MP3. Here’s how:

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Type CTRL+COMMA, or choose Preferences from the bottom of the Edit menu.
  3. Type ALT+O; or press TAB until you reach the Import Settings button and press ENTER. Focus goes to the Import Using combo box.
  4. Type M; or press DOWN ARROW until you reach the option “Mp3 encoder.”
  5. The default bit rate is 160 KBPS. If you want to change it, press TAB once and select the bit rate you want from the Setting combo box.
  6. Press ENTER twice to save your changes and exit the Preferences dialog box.

Now whenever you want to convert music to MP3, select either a single track or a group of tracks, press the context key or SHIFT+F10, and choose Create MP3 Version from the context menu. The only down side is that your iTunes library will now contain two copies of each track you convert – the original AAC file and the MP3 version.

If you previously purchased music with DRM, you can upgrade it to the iTunes Plus format for $.30 per single and 30% of the album price by choosing the Upgrade my Library link on the iTunes store home page. The songs are downloaded in the new format, and the old versions are deleted automatically so you only have one copy of each track in your iTunes library. When I tried this yesterday, only about half of my music was upgraded, so it may take a while before everything you purchased is available for upgrading. Furthermore, the protected version of one of the upgraded tracks wasn’t deleted, so don’t be surprised if this happens to you, particularly if you upgrade a large number of tracks.

Apple also announced that starting in april, some songs will cost $.69 apiece, some will continue to cost $.99, and some will cost $1.29, with more songs costing $.69 than $1.29. albums will continue to cost $9.99 on average.

You can read more about the announcement here.

Way to go, Apple, for removing dRM from your music store!

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