Here’s the kind of question I get about once a week or so: I recently switched from an iPhone 5 to a Galaxy S6 and love it. A much better experience! Problem is, I bought a ton of music in iTunes when I was using my iPhone and now want to move it to my Samsung and it’s locked with DRM [ed: “Digital Rights Management”]. Is there any way to remove the DRM on my purchased music files so I can listen to it on my Android phone? If it makes a difference, I still have a Mac system as my main computer.
Digital Rights Management is a way for Apple, and, by extension, the music label and musician to ensure that if you buy a copy of their work digitally that you won’t then share it with 500 of your best Facebook or Dropbox friends. If you did, well, then the musician would need a day job because the revenue from a single purchase isn’t going to pay for studio time or new gear, not to mention those lavish mansions in Brentwood and the Lamborghini with which to motor down Highway 1 to those swanky Malibu parties!
So this reader asks a tricky question, because there are indeed some slick ways to remove DRM from your protected iTunes music — and I’ll step you through NoteBurner iTunes DRM Audio Converter for Mac momentarily — but it’s important to highlight that it’s for your personal use only. In fact, it’s not only likely illegal for you to break the DRM and share music with your friends, it also really stinks for the artist for just the reason I mention: this is their livelihood and if you like the band or musician, why would you want to deprive them of the chance to make a buck or two?
With that in mind, let’s have a look at just how to remove the DRM and convert your M4A audio files into regular MP3 files so you can then listen to your purchased music on your Android device. And by my way of thinking, if digital rights truly worked properly it’d be “buy once, listen everywhere” anyway, and someday that’s exactly how it’ll work.
To start, download a copy of iTunes DRM Audio Converter from the Noteburner.com site: there’s a demo version you can get to try it out.
Before we go further, though, a quick demonstration of the problem. Here’s my Purchased playlist in iTunes:
Right click on a purchased track and choose “Show in Finder” from the resultant menu and you can see the issue:
The files purchased, in this case from the Spectre motion picture soundtrack, are all “m4a” format. Not useful for your Android device!
To convert them and strip away the DRM, launch the copy of iTunes DRM Audio Converter that you downloaded already:
As the image suggests, you’ll click to add audio files for the program to convert. Do so and it’ll give you your familiar iTunes organization in its own window.
I’m going to choose “Purchased” again, and find the track Vauxhall Bridge, a particular favorite of mine:
You can select dozens or hundreds of files to convert, but I’ll stick with this individual file as a demo.
A click on “OK” and you’ll get the conversion queue window with your track or tracks listed:
Here’s a key step: before you click on the “Convert” button, click on the tiny gear icon on the top right to ensure that the conversion is going to produce exactly the files you desire.
By default, the program matches the audio track selected so it’s not necessarily what you’ll need for the Android device, as shown:
I don’t want to convert it to AAC, I’d rather just have a (lossy) MP3 audio file instead since that’s a much more common music file standard, and since I don’t much care about the file staying small, I’m going to bump it up to the highest possible quality.
Those settings now look like this:
Now I’m ready to convert the audio file!
Back to the previous window and a click on the green “Convert” button and…
This process goes pretty fast at 20x, but if you find your results aren’t as good as you’d like, go back and choose “Convert Speed” to be slower and try again.
Once it’s done, the program automatically opens up the destination folder and the converted audio file is ready to copy over to your Android device / listen to as an unprotected, non-DRM MP3 audio file:
That’s all there is to the process with NoteBurner DRM Audio Converter. It’s quite easy and in my testing it does indeed create clean MP3 files that have the digital rights management removed, so they’re ready to go into Windows Media Center or other MP3 players — even on a flash drive you can plug into your car, if it supports that. Buy once, play everywhere.
Learn more about NoteBurner iTunes DRM Audio Converter: $39.95 for a full app license. Check out their YouTube video for more usage options too, and note that there’s also a Windows version of the program you can learn about on their site too.