iTunes DRM-free, but upgrading comes with strings attached

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Even though Apple chief executive Steve Jobs' long-stated desire for DRM-free iTunes music has finally been realized, some observers and users are questioning Apple for the way it's handling certain aspects of the change.



We're seeing several sources warning users about upgrading their libraries until Apple introduces more options.Â* (Not to mention finishing upgrading the entire catalog of ten million songs, which Apple says could take until April).



For example, my library contains 536 purchased items; only several are TV shows, or free singles and music videos of the week.Â* However, the home page of the iTunes Store only offers to upgrade 82 of them.



The number will rise eventually, but what really has folks disappointed is the "all-or-nothing" approach to the upgrade.Â* If I want to upgrade, say, my beloved purchased Athlete albums, I can only do so if I upgrade my tracks by Lindsay Lohan (don't ask) and a karaoke version of The Killers' "Mr. Brightside" I for some reason thought was a good idea at the time.Â*Â*Looking back, I shouldn't have ever paid for them back then, and I'd rather not suffer insult to injury now.















Yikes.



Also: If you bought a track or two from a protected album that has now gone DRM-free, you can't complete the album unless you first upgrade those tracks.Â* And that means...allÂ*of them, whether you still want them or not.



None of the promotional songs I got for free (like the Singles of the Week, or that "Back to School" cross-promotion with Facebook from a few summers ago) are appearing in my upgrade offer, although we have read reports from people who are seeing those.Â* iTunes uses your account's purchase history to present this "special offer", so you'll still spot songs you long ago banished to the Trash in disgust.







The motive behind Apple's moves aren't clear, but for customers' sake, many are hoping the company eventually delivers friendlier options by the time the store is completely DRM-free this spring.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 126
    wobegonwobegon Posts: 764member
    While I understand the frustration - fortunately I have better taste in music than the author (jk, I remember a single Jack Johnson song that I finally begrudgingly upgraded a while back on the off chance someone might see it) - who's to say whether Apple has any choice in the matter?
  • Reply 2 of 126
    f1turbof1turbo Posts: 257member
    I don't think this is good for one of the key reasons iTunes has been successful, simplicity.
  • Reply 3 of 126
    cazlarcazlar Posts: 11member
    Nitpicking, but iTunes didn't offer to upgrade 82 songs, but rather 82 items (68 individual songs and 14 albums). So 223 total out of 563, roughly 40% of your music.



    I agree there should be some way to pick and choose which you want though.
  • Reply 4 of 126
    Not sure what all the fuss is about.



    The only reason to upgrade is if you plan on illegally sharing your music with other people, right?



    If your music has played fine on your iPod and Mac all this time - it still will.



    If you're a true audiophile (nut), then you'd be buying physical media and ripping your own. Those few bits improvement aren't going to make your iPod sound any better in the car or jogging through noisy streets anyways, right?



    I have NEVER had an issue with DRM in all the years I've been using iTunes. So what's the fuss all about?
  • Reply 5 of 126
    Something I noticed (and I suppose it makes sense)...



    I'm an American but I was living in Australia when iTMS came out. Actually it was out for quite a while in the US before it came to AUS, and I used my US credit to purchase from the US store (not having really read that part in the T&C that says you can't do this), and after a few purchases I bought a new Mac in AUS, and as part of the initial setup associated my Apple ID with my Aussie computer somehow from there Apple worked out I was in breach and shut down my access to those songs! I was frustrated, but as it was only a couple songs I lived through it.



    Eventually iTMS came to Australia, though I think even to this day not all the major labels participate, meaning the catalog is more limited. And I purchased a good number of tracks from the AUS store. I recently moved back to the US, and switched stores. I notice that none of the songs I purchased from the AUS store appear on my upgrade list, even though many of those albums are also available in the US store. AND, those long lost songs ARE there.



    So that tells me a few things, which may be well known to others and quite logical. iTunes Plus is country specific. iTMS in general might be always country specific, even if a given album is available in multiple countries, buying it in one does not grant rights to it in another (and maybe this is due to different labels or subsidiaries of labels controlling rights in different countries).



    I am certain I am not the only totally legit multi-country person around (dual citizen), and it will only become more common. I wonder when the infrastructure of iTMS or indeed all digital media will accommodate this scenario....
  • Reply 6 of 126
    My Dad frequently felt compelled to admonish my childhood greediness by saying "give you an inch, you take a yard."



    Never have I seen that admonishment so applicable in the computer industry as with Apple consumers. Sometimes we can really be some greedy little punks.

    The iTunes Plus deal isn't perfect - but it's an improvement and a step in the right direction. I doubt that Apple is unaware of how it could be improved - so how about just sitting back and being grateful for what is currently available?
  • Reply 7 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by YodaMac View Post


    Not sure what all the fuss is about.



    The only reason to upgrade is if you plan on illegally sharing your music with other people, right?



    If your music has played fine on your iPod and Mac all this time - it still will.



    If you're a true audiophile (nut), then you'd be buying physical media and ripping your own. Those few bits improvement aren't going to make your iPod sound any better in the car or jogging through noisy streets anyways, right?



    I have NEVER had an issue with DRM in all the years I've been using iTunes. So what's the fuss all about?



    If you've ever used iLife and wanted to embed a track in a iPhoto slideshow or an iMovie, then you'd know that DRM'ed music won't work for you if you want to then share that slideshow or movie. It fails with a friendly error message when you try to export. I upgraded my music for this very reason. Now I don't have to worry when I am feeling creative.



    Luckily, I only had to spend $6 to upgrade my library since most of my music is ripped off of my CD collection.
  • Reply 8 of 126
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,572member
    If you REALLY wanted to upgrade just a portion of your music, you could always temporarily remove those other unwanted songs from your library. When you're done upgrading, move them back into your library.



    However I agree, it would be nice if you could create a playlist and then have iTunes upgrade everything in the list.







    Quote:
    Originally Posted by YodaMac View Post


    The only reason to upgrade is if you plan on illegally sharing your music with other people, right?



    Not necessarily, if I wanted to listen to the music on my Zune or some other non-iPod player.
  • Reply 9 of 126
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,919member
    Good to see it's not just me who has nostalgic moments of weakness. Maybe the author should drag the embarrassing tunes out of his library, into a folder, upgrade the library then drag the files back in (or maybe not!). It's not very 'Apple' but given most iTunes users are Windows-based this kind of file-fiddling should be second nature.



    McD
  • Reply 10 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by YodaMac View Post


    Not sure what all the fuss is about.



    The only reason to upgrade is if you plan on illegally sharing your music with other people, right?



    NO.



    Quote:

    If your music has played fine on your iPod and Mac all this time - it still will.



    Some people don't want to be trapped in an Apple only world (well, at least I don't). I have a TiVo, a PSP and a PS3 (along with an iPod) and I would like to be able to use any of music on any of those devices. I don't have many purchases from iTunes, but I must apparently have more than I would have thought. Yesterday, I had about $17 worth of items to upgrade. Now, it's jumped to close to $30.



    Quote:

    If you're a true audiophile (nut), then you'd be buying physical media and ripping your own. Those few bits improvement aren't going to make your iPod sound any better in the car or jogging through noisy streets anyways, right?



    Well, they should (though as you said, I'm obviously insane,since over 90% of my music is purchased on CD...the other 10% coming from Amazon's mp3 deals of the day). There's more than just the car and jogging down the street with some crappy ear buds. My iPod plays through my car's radio via the dock connector so it should benefit. And playing them via a PS3 or AppleTV should alsohave better quality.



    Quote:

    I have NEVER had an issue with DRM in all the years I've been using iTunes. So what's the fuss all about?



    Well that's good for you and all. You do realize there are more people in the world than you, right? I've stayed away from purchasing anything from iTunes because of DRM (and there were some albums I considered for the pre-order iTunes exclusive bonus tracks).
  • Reply 11 of 126
    boogabooga Posts: 1,081member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by YodaMac View Post


    Not sure what all the fuss is about.



    The only reason to upgrade is if you plan on illegally sharing your music with other people, right?



    If your music has played fine on your iPod and Mac all this time - it still will.



    If you're a true audiophile (nut), then you'd be buying physical media and ripping your own. Those few bits improvement aren't going to make your iPod sound any better in the car or jogging through noisy streets anyways, right?



    I have NEVER had an issue with DRM in all the years I've been using iTunes. So what's the fuss all about?



    There's also the option of legally sharing your music. Fair use allows all sorts of options that DRM does not that are perfectly legal.



    It doesn't matter though. I've tried 3 times and iTunes steadfastly refuses to actually do the upgrade, so the point is moot.
  • Reply 12 of 126
    pdiddypdiddy Posts: 27member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by YodaMac View Post


    The only reason to upgrade is if you plan on illegally sharing your music with other people, right?



    No, I don't want my DRM music to not work anymore if iTunes goes under and I buy a new computer. Unlikely, but it's happened to other stores...



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by YodaMac View Post


    Those few bits improvement aren't going to make your iPod sound any better in the car or jogging through noisy streets anyways, right?



    It's a better bit rate, the sound is better regardless of whether you can hear it or not while jogging. Thirty cents per song better? Not sure...



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by YodaMac View Post


    I have NEVER had an issue with DRM in all the years I've been using iTunes. So what's the fuss all about?



    It's about what could happen. The Windows "Plays for Sure" servers were shut down, Wal-Mart's DRM stuff doesn't work anymore... Was Yahoo! the other one that shut theirs down? Can't remember.



    Anyway, now that iTunes is offering everything DRM free, are they now going to shut down their "authentication" servers? At least at some point in the future I think they will, and after they do, better not buy a new iPod or computer, or the DRM'd stuff won't work on those. Sure they'll continue to work on your current hardware, but eventually you'll want to upgrade.



    Maybe they'll change iTunes to ignore the need to authenticate. That would be nice of them, but they don't have to.
  • Reply 13 of 126
    chromoschromos Posts: 191member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mjtomlin View Post


    If you REALLY wanted to upgrade just a portion of your music, you could always temporarily remove those other unwanted songs from your library. When you're done upgrading, move them back into your library.



    No, the list of upgradable songs comes from the Purchase History of the associated iTunes account, not what's in the local iTunes library.
  • Reply 14 of 126
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,572member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pdiddy View Post


    Anyway, now that iTunes is offering everything DRM free, are they now going to shut down their "authentication" servers? At least at some point in the future I think they will,



    FairPlay is also used with other types of content, such as Movies, Applications, etc... Apple will not be shutting down their authentication servers. The DRM is only being removed from the music. Which means this is not a tactic of trying to force people into upgrading. it is an option, just as it has always been.
  • Reply 15 of 126
    Let's say that in the future (1, 2, 5 or 10 years?) Apple wants to turn off all the servers that checks the DRM on your tracks. Would they offer a free DRM-free upgrade? How long do you think Apple will bother to maintain these DRM servers? How much does it cost to run them?



    Since DRM has not really been an issue to me, I won't be shelling out $ to make my 957 (and counting) iTunes tracks DRM-free.
  • Reply 16 of 126
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    The process is very simple, and I think, fair. It doesn't offer a lot of customization, though, it's true. I don't see it as a problem except for people who buy a lot of music they don't like... a habit that carries a downside no matter what



    I'm just glad that free songs don't get upgraded--that's clearly stated, and it makes sense. I don't WANT to upgrade all those free songs, I want to upgrade the songs I chose to buy--and that's how the system works.



    If they offered a more complex and customizable process, I can see one song I wouldn't upgrade... saving me 30 cents. Not worth it--I'll accept the simplicity of the current system.



    Quote:

    Also: If you bought a track or two from a protected album that has now gone DRM-free, you can't complete the album unless you first upgrade those tracks. And that means...all of them, whether you still want them or not.



    You can't complete an album that you don't want all the songs from? That's OK with me
  • Reply 17 of 126
    I like having the DRM-free songs because I use Toast to make my mix CDs and I have to do an annoying burn and re-import step if I want to use my purchased music in my own mix CD in Toast.



    I'd also really like the ability to choose which songs I upgrade, as I've got a few albums and tracks that I liked enough to purchase the full physical CDs of afterwards. I've also got a couple of tracks that I purchased for a one-time project or gag gift for friends that I will NEVER listen to again (they're already deleted out of my library) and I'm forced to pay for those as well if I want to upgrade my library.
  • Reply 18 of 126
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,572member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by chromos View Post


    No, the list of upgradable songs comes from the Purchase History of the associated iTunes account, not what's in the local iTunes library.



    Yeah, actually I just noticed that and left feedback on the iTunes Feedback Page
  • Reply 19 of 126
    Why should there be an upgrade fee at all? The music was $.99 with DRM. It is (for the most part) $.99 now that it's DRM-free but I have to pay $.30 per song because I made the mistake of giving Apple my business too early.



    Seems to me it should be a free upgrade now that DRM-free is going to be the norm.



    Is this upgrade fee being imposed by Apple, by the labels or both?
  • Reply 20 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by YodaMac View Post


    The only reason to upgrade is if you plan on illegally sharing your music with other people, right?



    If you're a true audiophile (nut), then you'd be buying physical media and ripping your own. Those few bits improvement aren't going to make your iPod sound any better in the car or jogging through noisy streets anyways, right?



    WRONG. The difference between 128 and 256 is an audible one. The diff between CD and 256 really isn't that much (in the audible range at least). Many, including myself, want the higher quality without buying physical media. Electronic media is more environmentally friendly anyways.
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