iTunes winners, and how to update your DRM protected music

First off, I’d like to congratulate the winners of the iTunes gift cards, courtesy of Holiday Inn: Jen and Susan.  Congratulations, and thanks again to Holiday Inn for the great prizes.

[Don’t read this next part if you’re an avid iTunes purchaser, or just generally aware of digital media happenings – you’ll just be saying “duh” a lot and wondering why I didn’t know all of this already.]

I also received iTunes gift cards for administering the contest, and this posed a dilemma, because Microsoft gave me a Zune HD a couple months ago and I bought a Motorola Droid phone a couple weeks ago, and I was having trouble getting a few dozen songs that I had purchased on iTunes to play on both of those.  I could burn CDs that would play the songs, but couldn’t transfer them to my Zune or my phone.  I wasn’t sure if I should buy anything else from iTunes, ever.   Then I noticed that all of the files that wouldn’t transfer said “protected” in the file name.  Hmm.

A little googling and I discovered that I had purchased those songs before iTunes music had become DRM (Digital Rights Management) free.  According to Wikipedia, Apple removed the usage restrictions earlier this year from new music purchased from the iTunes store, so everything I’ve bought since then worked fine on my Zune (plus, apparently, some songs I had purchased at an increased price during a transition period – that’s why it was so confusing).  But I was stuck with the stuff that I’d purchased a while back. Grr.

So, first I tried a bunch of different programs that promised to remove the restrictions.  None of them worked at all, but at least they were all free to try.  Then I got back to googling and discovered (this is where the giant “duh!” comes in) that for about 30 cents a song I could remove the restrictions from those songs.  It’s the “upgrade” feature at the bottom of the iTunes store page.  With a couple of clicks I was able to upgrade the rest of my library and I was all set for the Zune and the Droid.  And I was able to use my iTunes gift cards to do it!

So, if you’re afraid to ditch your iPod because of all of the music you’ve purchased on iTunes, that might not be a deal-breaker.  It depends on how many songs you have to upgrade and how much you want to spend.  I’m loving my Zune but would have been upset if I’d had to buy all of those songs over again.  I’ve never used a “real” iPod (I just have a little clip-on iPod shuffle, the original one without a screen that holds about 150 songs – great for jogging) so I can’t compare, but after using the Zune HD for a week I can’t imagine what more the iPod would have to offer.  I’ve never been a Mac person (Jake loves his “I’m a PC shirt” – he tells people it stands for “problem child”) so it kind of bothered me that iPods seemed to be the only good option for music.  I have no idea why Microsoft is so bad about PR for the Zune, but honestly I wouldn’t even have considered it if they hadn’t given it to me.  I’m going to put it in my holiday gift guide to help change that. :-)

Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has Compensation Levels of 1, 8 and 10. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.

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