Songs you purchased from iTunes Store were protected by Apple's FairPlay Digital Rights Management before 2009. Those restrictive MPEG-4 audio files can't be played on an unauthorized computer. At the Macworld Expo of 2009, Apple finally decided to drop DRM from the iTunes music library. But songs purchased before this decision are still wrapped in DRM.

If you want to liberate the purchased music from DRM restriction, you've come to the right place. This guide will show you how to unprotect iTunes songs easily. After that, you can transfer or put iTunes songs to whatever device you like.


Part 1. What is DRM-protected iTunes Music

Basically, all purchased media files including music, videos, audiobooks are usually encrypted with DRM (Digital Rights Management) for legally and efficiently protecting digital contents. If you use iTunes Store to get any of these media resources, the purchased items from iTunes Store are encrypted with DRM before 2009. As a result, you can only enjoy the playback of these DRM-protected files within iTunes Player only. Even if you desire to import them to iMovie for direct editing, it is impossible.

How to Identify What Songs Have DRM Protection

Because only for purchases iTunes songs before 2009 are encrypted with DRM, you may feel confused about whether the songs you are owning now is DRM protected or not. To identiy the encrypted ones, simple navigate to your library, use the "Songs" view, and look at the "Kind" column. If you do not see Kind, enable it by going to "View > View Options". If you find the file status is marked as "Protected AAC Audio File", then this is a protected iTunes song.

📍 Check our detailed guide:

How to Check If Songs Are DRM Protected in iTunes

Can You Convert Protected iTunes Songs

Absolutely. Although you get some DRM-protected iTunes songs, there are still ways to help you unprotect by removing DRM from iTunes Music. After you get DRM-free iTunes songs, you are able to transfer them to any device or use them for editing in any software without limitations.

For detailed guidance, keep reading and see all 3 helpful ways. Then just choose your ideal method and unprotect iTunes songs right away!

Part 2. How to Unprotect iTunes Songs

As mentioned, to unprotect iTunes songs, actually, you need to first remove DRM from them. This is not a difficult task and there are 3 workable methods to help you do it. Now, let's grasp more details one by one.

Method 1: How to Unprotect iTunes Music to DRM-free MP3

Converting protected iTunes music to DRM-free MP3 files is the most popular method many users would consider to unprotect iTunes songs. This method enables you to play or edit iTunes songs on all devices as well as software without limitations. However, you need powerful software to finish the conversion.

Among many options providing similar function, TuneFab Apple Music Converter is definitely the best one on the market. This software can unprotect a whole iTunes music playlist and even all songs contained in your music library at once without any quality loss. The DRM-free iTunes music will be downloaded in MP3 and other mainstream formats at up to 320kbps quality, ensuring you to have the best streaming experience on all devices.

TuneFab Apple Music Converter guarantees up to 5X or even faster speed to batch unprotect iTunes music playlists download simultaneously, greatly saving your time!

⛱ Attractive Features of TuneFab Apple Music Converter

  • •  Convert protected iTunes songs and Apple Music songs to high-quality MP3 tracks.

  • •  Support MP3, M4A, WAV, and FLAC.

  • •  Easy-to-use and fast conversion.

  • •  Support batch conversion.

  • •  Keep metadata info after conversion.

  • •  Compatible with Windows and Mac.

How to Unprotect iTunes Songs with A Music Converter

Step 1. Select iTunes Songs You Want to Convert

Launch TuneFab Apple Music Converter and iTunes will pop up automatically. In the main interface, go to "Playlist" and click "Library" to select songs or albums.

🎨 Note: iTunes installation is required. Please install iTunes first. Then, you should make sure that the iTunes songs you want to convert are available in iTunes.

Sync with iTunes Library

Step 2. Set Output Format for Converted iTunes Music

Click "Output Format" and from the drop-down list, you can find that it supports MP3, M4A, AAC, FLAC, AC3, AU, and AIFF formats. Then select MP3. From the right side, you can adjust codec, bitrate, sample rate, channels.

Customize Parameters to Unprotect iTunes Music

Step 3. Convert Protected iTunes Songs to MP3

Make sure all parameters you've set meet your requirements. Then tap "Convert" to start converting.

Unprotect iTunes Music and Convert to MP3

That's it! These are all the procedures to process iTunes DRM removal. After removing the DRM from iTunes music and successfully converting, you can gain iTunes songs in the format of MP3.

Method 2: How to Unlock iTunes Music via iTunes Match

Apart from using a converter to unprotect iTunes music, you can also turn to Apple's official method to unlock protected iTunes songs released before 2009. However, it requires paid subscription to iTunes Match. After you subscribe to iTunes Match, you can remove the DRM protection from purchased music files and make them playable on any other devices.

Subscribe to iTunes Match to Unprotect iTunes Songs

Step 1. Lunch iTunes and also log into your Apple account.

Step 2. Tap "My Music" to browse the iTunes library and select iTunes songs you desire to unprotect. Simply right click on them and select to delete.

Step 3. Next, navigate to iTunes Store and go to "Quick Links" > "Purchased".

Step 4. After that, switch to the "Music" tab and locate the iTunes Music you just deleted by desire to convert to the DRM-free version.

Step 5. Now, tap the "could" icon to re-download iTunes songs. Then, you are able to get the unprotected iTunes music saved to your library again.

How to Unprotect iTunes Songs in iTunes Match

Method 3: How to Unprotect iTunes Music for Free

There is also a free method available to help you unprotect iTunes music without paying penny. However, it would be a bit complicated to process. In this case, you will need a blank CD and a CD drive (if necessary) to burn all DRM-protected iTunes music into it.

How to Unprotect iTunes Songs for Free with CD

Step 1. Create a playlist and put all the songs you want to unprotect.

Step 2. Select the playlist you want to unlock and click "Burn Playlist to Disc" to rip them into the CD. Please notice it will take a relatively long time to burn all the songs to CD.

Step 3. After the burning is completed, eject the CD and insert it to your computer.

Step 4. Start ripping these songs to iTunes.

Unprotect iTunes Music for Free

Part 3. FAQ about DRM iTunes Songs

Grasp these FAQs if you still hold certain confusions on unprotecting iTunes songs or removing DRM from iTunes music.

Q1: What does DRM-protected mean?

DRM, which is short for Digital Rights Management, is a kind of encryption technology used to protect streaming media from being copied or transferred, to ensure the security of copyright without letting the media be pirated by others.

Q2: Does the lack of DRM mean that I can copy unlimited iTunes songs?

No, copyright law is still in effect. The removal of DRM cannot give you the flexibility to judge what's right and what's wrong. The lack of DRM can just help you in making them more compatible and playing these non-DRMed songs freely on devices that cannot support the iTunes-protected audio format. More importantly, you cannot distribute these converted music files or use them for commercial purposes. They are for personal use only.

Q3. Are there ways to upgrade old DRM-ed songs?

Yes, but the updates are not free. Apple allows you to upgrade songs to iTunes Plus by charging you a $0.30 fee for each song. But that option disappeared quietly when iTunes Match was launched in 2011. Therefore it is not possible to upgrade old DRM-ed songs to iTunes Plus by paying $0.30 per track. However, you can use iTunes Match to upgrade the DRM-ed songs you already bought to the new DRM-free version.

Pro Tip: Apple rolled out its music streaming service, Apple Music, in 2015. The service has gained 72 million subscribers as of June 2020. With an Apple Music subscription, you can stream on-demand or download tracks for offline playing instead of purchasing songs on iTunes. However, the downloaded Apple Music tracks are DRM-protected. In comparison, tracks available on iTunes are without DRM protection after 2009. If you mean getting a DRM-free Apple Music track, take a look at our detailed guide. >> How to Remove DRM from Apple Music Tracks


All in all, hope that you've learned the easiest way to unprotect iTunes songs from your old iTunes music files. Compared all of them, TuneFab Apple Music Converter delivers more efficient help and one-click solution to remove DRM and unprotect iTunes songs, ensuring you a more hassle-free experience to enjoy iTunes songs everywhere. Hence, among all of them, it is an ideal pick you should really give a try. Now, install it for free and get started!

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