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FairPlay DRM Removal: How to Remove Apple Music DRM?

By Catrina Jones

Updated on May 20, 2021

Want to save some songs on your iPod classic and then listen to your music offline on the go? Too bad. That's because can't do it with a song from Apple Music. Even though you've found the directory where the Apple Music offline tracks are saved but these tracks are saved in.m4p format (DRM-protected) and most devices and media players won't support the M4P file.

If you are looking for some methods to remove DRM from Apple Music so that you can make those tracks available for your legal personal usages, such as importing songs to iMovie for editing, playing music with DJ software, or making ringtone for iPhone or other mobile phones, etc., you're at the right place. This article will show you how to bypass FairPlay DRM with the best Apple Music DRM removal software after which you can play songs in any way you want it or on any device with real freedom of choice.

Apple Music and DRM


1. About FairPlay DRM Restrictions

Apple Music has adopted FairPlay as the DRM encryption scheme to restrict you from playing the songs you download from the Apple Music library outside Apple's products and apps.

Once you successfully subscribe to Apple Music, which is known as an authorized music streaming service, a valid license key will be tied to your Apple ID. This license key is used to connect your Apple ID with the FairPlay digital rights management (DRM) server for completing the authentication process.

If a device is not tied to a valid licensed key, it won't be able to communicate with Apple's DRM server and thus not entitled to decode DRM protection for music playback. That's why you will find it difficult to put those content on your personal devices, make personal copies/backups or make transformative fair use that involves music.

These are the most common usage restrictions of Apple Music:

* Limits device (or media player) compatibility: Only devices that you've authorized using your iTunes account are granted permission for using the service.

* Limits the number of devices on which you can use Apple Music: You are restricted to use the service on up to ten devices (no more than five computers).

* Restricts use on multiple devices at once: You are restricted to stream music on only one device at a time.

* Restricts the ability to convert files to other formats: Songs are saved as Apple Music AAC audio files with DRM.

* Restricts usability: You cannot edit or remix the tracks.

* Restricts burning songs to CDs.

* Restricts on keeping the purchased content: Your entire song library will be gone forever if you cancel the paid subscription.

If you already have an Apple Music account, you might at some point feel that your experience with Apple Music is totally ruined by DRM. The list of restrictions above may have led you to resist DRM and force you to use a DRM-removal tool to get a DRM-free version of the content so that you can enjoy your music without any limitations.

Can DRM be removed? Is removing DRM illegal? Are DRM converters legal? Perhaps you've already overwhelmed by these questions and wondered whether or not you should strip DRM from these protected files. In the next part, we will discuss why it is perfectly legal for you to remove DRM from Apple Music for non-infringing purposes, such as personal backup or device transfers.

2. Is Stripping DRM from Apple Music Legal?

DRM removal is in fact considered illegal in some countries, such as the U.S., Canada, Japan, etc. But there's an exception called Fair Use, which is a concept developed by the Anglo-American law, making it reasonable for the consumers to create a copy of their legally purchased material for personal use.

If you are an Apple Music subscriber, it's legal for you to remove DRM and save the songs to your personal devices for enjoyment, as long as you are not sharing the ripped songs with other people. Under such a situation, it's not likely you will be accused of infringing the content creator's copyright. You are just exercising your full legal rights of fair use.

Warning: If you are trying to use an Apple Music DRM remover, make sure that you have an Apple Music subscription first. And never send any of the DRM-free songs you rip from Apple Music to others and keep these songs only for personal, non-commercial use.

3. How to Check If Songs are DRM-protected?

Not all music from Apple has employed DRM technology. Songs provided by iTunes between 2003 and 2009 were once protected by DRM. However, DRM was dropped from the iTunes music library after 2009. Therefore, all tracks you purchased in the iTunes Store should be available DRM-free by now. But if you subscribe to Apple Music, as it is more of a music streaming service, tracks downloaded on the platform are DRM-locking and labeled as Apple Music AAC audio files in M4P format.

Besides, in rare cases, Apple may download a protected version of a song that you own. In other words, in case that you fail to play Apple tracks on your music listening device after transferring the audio files, you may check if an audio file is protected in iTunes or the native Music app on your computer. Here are the steps:

1. Open iTunes on your PC and open the Library. (macOS 10.15 or higher version are supposed to check in the Music app.)

2. From the Songs tab, right-click a track and select Song info > File, and look for the kind field.

Check Song Info on iTunes

3. If the Kind: includes Apple Music or Protected, you shall not be able to play the music file on any unauthorized device. Then DRM removal becomes a necessary process.

Check File Kind on iTunes

What if the unprotected iTunes music purchases become DRM-encumbered…

Additionally, if you use the iCloud Music Library to download your purchased iTunes songs, this may cause an issue that songs to be overwritten with DRM restriction. To fix this, you need to disable the iCloud Music Library and re-sync your device with iTunes, and retrieve the non-protected version of the file on devices other than your PC.

1. Make sure the non-protected file stored physically in your music library on your PC.

2. Disable iTunes Library in iTunes and on your device.

On computer: iTunes > select Edit on the menu bar > Preferences > General > iCloud Music Library: Uncheck

On iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch: Settings > Music > iCloud Music Library: Turn Off

3. Sync your songs to your device. This will download a new but unprotected version to your device. And after that, you may re-enable iTunes Music Library on iTunes and your portable device.

Uncheck iCloud Music Library

4. How to Play Protected Apple Music Songs?

Once you subscribe to Apple Music, log in to your Apple account, and you can play Apple Music on your favorite Apple devices. Also, you can listen on Android and Windows devices, and even smart TVs and smart speakers that are compatible with the Apple Music app. Conveniently, you may utilize the Apple Music web player and easily listen online.

But things will get different and somehow tricky if you mean transferring the downloaded Apple Music AAC audio to a device that doesn’t support the Apple Music app and cannot connect to the Internet. For instance, transferring the protected tracks to a specific standalone MP3 player. Although the device provides excellent sound quality and even supports HiFi Lossless quality, it may fail to recognize the DRM-ed tracks. In this scenario, as long as you abide by the fair use doctrine, you may take advantage of some Apple Music DRM removal tools to circumvent DRM and convert your Apple Music tracks.

5. Best Apple Music DRM Removal Software

Almost all the tools that work efficiently are not freeware, it might take $20 - $40 for purchasing a DRM-stripping program. But it sounds quite reasonable for what you get because you can enjoy additional service such as professional technical support regarding any problems you may have in the DRM removing process.

A more affordable option is to go for the DRM removal freeware which is free but most of the free tools have not been updated for quite a while. You might probably need to downgrade your computer system or iTunes version to smoothly run the freeware, not to mentioned other issues you may have when using the software, such as the lack of advanced features, software viruses, and so on.

In case you need help on finding an efficient tool, here we recommend the best DRM-stripping software which is capable of converting DRM-ed Apple Music songs to DRM-free MP3, M4A, or other formats with almost CD quality.

Recommended Tool: TuneFab Apple Music Converter

Best for: Removing DRM from all kinds of protected media files including Apple Music tracks, iTunes purchased songs, iTunes audiobooks, Audible audiobooks, music videos, iTunes movies, iTunes TV shows, etc.

TuneFab Apple Music Converter is a handy Apple Music DRM removal tool and iTunes audio converter. It has an iTunes-like user interface and shows you the entire music library by default. One of its killer features - 16X conversion speed - makes it extremely fast to convert a bunch of songs at once without a long waiting time.

It has multiple output formats available, such as MP3, M4A, AAC, FLAC, AC3, AIFF, etc. And it provides a choice of quality settings as well, you can choose High Quality (48,000 Hz, 256 Kbps), Normal Quality ( 44,100 Hz, 192 Kbps), Good Quality ( 44,100 Hz, 256 Kbps), Low Quality ( 44,100 Hz, 128 Kbps) or customize the output quality based on your preferences. What's more, all the ID3 tags and metadata info will be saved automatically after conversion, so that you can manage the DRM-free songs conveniently.

In a word, TuneFab Apple Music Converter is an excellent software that is known for its superb stable conversion performance. You can download the program, exploring more details with the 30-day free trial, and see if it performs exactly as advertised.

6. How to Remove DRM from Apple Music Files Legally

Method 1. Using TuneFab Apple Music Converter


* You have a valid Apple Music subscription (Free trial or Premium)

* You have Windows PC or Mac

* You have installed iTunes on your computer (Windows)

The below instructions will guide you through the DRM removal process.

Step 1. Log into iTunes (Windows) or Music app (Mac) with your Apple ID and authorize the computer to play the DRM-ed songs. Find the music (track/playlist/album) that you want to decrypt, and then click the Add button + to add music to your library. Before you get started, it is necessary to check if these songs play correctly in iTunes or Music app.

Step 2. If you have already installed TuneFab Apple Music Converter, launch the program and you will be able to see all your playlists and music files. Select the entire playlist or multiple songs that you want to convert.

Apple Music DRM Removal

Step 3. Go to the bottom of the main window and verify the following output settings.

Output Format and Profile:

Click on the Output Format dropdown to select MP3 or M4A as your output format.

If the output format is M4A, set the Profile to M4A – Good Quality (44,100 Hz, stereo, 256 Kbps), then you will get the exact same Apple Music sound quality.

If the output format is MP3, set the Profile to MP3 – High Quality (48,000 Hz, stereo, 320 Kbps), the audio quality will also be great as the Good Quality M4A. You won't notice any difference between them, but the higher quality, the larger the size of a file will be generated.

Output Options

Output Folder: You can choose any output folder on your PC for DRM-free songs.

Output Options

Speed: Windows version support 10X speed by default, and the conversion speed won't affect the sound quality. Mac version supports both 1X and 5X speed, which allows you to select the speed based on your preferences. 

Step 4. When the previous steps are done, click the Convert button to start converting songs. You will see the converting progress in a separate window. When it is finished, click the "View Output File" button and you'll get the personal copies of your music without DRM encryption.

Enjoy DRM-free Apple Music Songs

Advanced Tips:

1. To get a more stable conversion result, it's better to download songs in iTunes or the Music app and store them locally.
2. Do not use iTunes or the Music app during the conversion process. But you can play audio files in other apps and it won't affect the conversion.

How to Remove DRM from Apple Music and Convert Protected M4P to MP3

Method 2. Using Requiem 4.1 – Remove DRM from Apple Music for Free

Requiem 4.1 is an ancient software that hasn't been updated for years, but until now there're still users sharing their up-to-date experience with this tool. The biggest advantage of Requiem is that it can perform lossless DRM removal. It is not decoding and re-encoding the protected file like other programs do but cracking the DRM encryption directly from the original audio files so that no quality will be lost.

A user from Digiex updated his experience on getting Requiem to work on Windows 10 PC in April 2020. If you are interested in using this software, follow his steps and see if it works.

Step 1. Uninstall the following in order to make sure that you can re-install the older iTunes version successfully.

* Existing iTunes

* Apple Software Update

* Apple Mobile Device Support

* Bonjour

* Apple Application Support 32-bit

* Apple Application Support 64-bit

Step 2. Download and install iTunes 10.7 on your computer.

Step 3. Download Requiem 4.1.

Step 4. Find out the local iTunes library folder (c:/Users/~username~/Music/iTunes) and rename it to something else in order for iTunes 10.7 to run properly.

Step 5. Open iTunes 10.7 and download the music that you want to break and delete DRM to store them locally in your new library.

Step 6. Make sure you've authorized your computer in order for the songs to play correctly on iTunes.

Step 7. Close iTunes and then lauch Requiem. This program will automatically find the DRM-protected Apple Music songs in your iTunes library and get rid of DRM from them.

Requiem 4.1

Method 3. Using iTunes Match – Upgrade and Unprotect iTunes Music Purchases

It is true that Apple FairPlay DRM is attached in purchased iTunes Music. A lesser-known fact is that you also can remove DRM from old iTunes music purchases with iTunes Match. And if you’ve already got an Apple Music membership, iTunes Match is bundled inside of it so you can get all the benefits.

Basically, the iTunes Match service lets you match or upload tracks from your music library to iCloud Music Library. And the matched song will be ungraded without DRM because they are matching the iTunes Store catalog that sells DRM-free tracks. After that, you can download and stream your old iTunes music purchases on another device you own with no DRM applied to the tracks.

If you want to know more about Apple’s two different subscription services, this article includes more information. >> Apple Music vs. iTunes Match: Everything You Need to Know

7. Conclusion

Which method do you prefer to make Apple Music songs DRM-free? If you don't like complicated steps, you should avoid using Requiem because it is less convenient and there's no technical support to help you out if you have any issue with using it. Compared with Requiem, TuneFab is a much effective option because it provides a quick and easy solution that not only saves a lot of your time and energy but also offers you the best music quality and output format options. You can play the DRM-free songs on any device without limitation!

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