Calm down and rock on; Apple isn’t adding DRM to your music


The only problem is when you start deleting files without a backup. Don't do that.
Photo: Apple

No, you won’t lose all your DRM-free iTunes music. At least, not without deleting your actual files and not having a backup. Apple isn’t adding DRM to your iTunes files, either.

The reality here is that Apple will not automatically remove any iTunes music files you own on your computer and replace it with a digital rights managed (DRM) file.

However, the convergence of iTunes Match, Apple Music, and the new iCloud Music Library can be confusing, and there is a small potential to re-download files you’ve deleted from your Mac as DRM-protected Apple Music files.

Luckily, the folks at iMore have a pretty fantastic, clear explanation of what’s going down here, and a pretty neat way to check and see which of your music files have been matched, uploaded, or purchased. Even John Gruber linked to it, so you know it’s good.

When you download a song to your Mac from Apple Music, it’s got DRM on it. This prevents you from, say, downloading thousands of songs and then cancelling your Apple Music subscription. It’s annoying, but makes business sense, and will help pay the artists you’re listening to.

Anyway, if you turn on iCloud Music Library, Apple will scan your music collection and match it to tracks in Apple Music, which lets you then listen to that track on any other Apple Music device at a high-quality bit rate. If you download that Apple Music track to your other devices (or the same Mac you matched from only after you deleted those actual files), it will be an Apple Music file, meaning it will have DRM. Nothing is added to your file, it’s a whole different file, and it’s your fault for deleting that track in the first place. “iCloud Music Library is not a backup service,” Serenity Caldwell at iMore rightly reminds us.

Now, if you don’t want this to happen, because you dump original DRM-free iTunes files from your Mac all the time and have no backup (really? why?), then use iTunes Match, or don’t use iCloud Music Library. It’s really that simple. You can still use Apple Music to stream stuff and download it to any of your devices. It won’t match anything you already have on your Mac, and all is well.

To check and see how your files play out, all you need to do is click on the My Music from the tab bar in iTunes 12.2, then head up to click the View menu and then View Options. Click on the Show Columns, and then click on iCloud Status and iCloud Download.

Now you can find out if iTunes thinks your music files are Uploaded (a unique track that cannot be matched, so it’s been uploaded to Apple’s servers – you’ll get it back in the same format), Matched (Apple found the track on its iTunes servers, you’ll download it to new devices as a DRM-free high-resolution AAC file), Purchased (you bought it, you own it, DRM-free), or Apple Music DRM (it’s a file that you’ve downloaded from Apple Music and you can’t listen to it if you let your subscription lapse). You might also see the Ineligible status, which applies to non-music files like PDFs.

Source: iMore
Via: Daring Fireball

  • Twx

    You cannot download Apple Music files to your device without turning on iCloud music library.

    • Evelyn2563

      If you could use extra cash on the side in the range of 50-300 bucks each day for doing simple work over internet from comfort of your home for several h each day then read more here…

  • londoner

    The techinical problem I’m finding with Apple Music is that you can’t separate iTunes Match from Apple Music and iCloud library and I find this very frustrating.

    I want to keep iTunes Match as a safe vault of my music, a cheap back up I have on the side. However, if I switch on iCloud library they all merge (Apple Music, iCloud library, iTunes Match). Which means, you can no longer do what you want with your iTunes Match content (ie: if you delete something you sort of lose ownership of it) and if you do, you then have to keep paying the £9.99 for the rest of your life (and can switch iTunes Match off) which I’m quite sure I won’t be doing. It’s really bad financial decision.
    So I feel the “all or nothing” dilemma.
    I wish they’d let you keep the two completely sepearate. Apple Music just doesn’t “just work” really…
    P.S.: if you have a way of separating the two please let me know!

    • Davide

      If you delete an Itunes Match song, you can redownload it as Matched. If you remove the download, then it’s gone forever (unless you have a backup).

      • londoner

        but if the song isn’t downloaded and you “delete” it removes it from your iTunes Match…
        Basically, the only way around this, erm, predicament, is to have one Apple ID for your iTunes Match and one for Apple Music… question is, how much do I want Apple Music in order to engage in this complicated and tedious exercise :)

      • Allewsive

        This is like ripping a track to your iTunes library, deleting that track, and yelling at Apple. Why would you Delete anything from your iCloud Library?

        I use iTunes Match and iCloud Library and Apple Music. I can tell you that I have access to all the music just like I used to using iTunes Match, in fact I am downloading my entire collection right now for a new backup. People are freaking out when they don’t know what is actually happening, and I will say this is all very sloppy on Apple’s side of the fence. However, if you do not have a backup of any file, and you delete that file then it is your fault right? The same goes if you have a file on, say, Dropbox and not locally on your PC.. If you delete that file from Dropbox then it is also gone and your fault.

        Just remember, backing up your stuff is still VERY IMPORTANT in 2015: download a local copy from your iTunes Match, and make a secure and personal hardcopy backup!

      • londoner

        This is not about putting blame on anyone… We’re talking about this new service and how it works. I think the best way to go about it is to start completely fresh; at the end of the trial I don’t want to change anything on my iTunes Match content. Because like Spotify, whenever you pay all your songs and playlists are there, if you don’y pay you can’t save them for iffline usage. I’m just really sceptical about what state my Music will be if I decide to not continue paying £9.99 a month for the rest of my life. I’m sceptical because although iTunes Match works well the first two three weeks were a nightmare. It changed versions, artwork, it was a mess! I sorted it out due to sheer geekiness though…

      • Davide

        But that didn’t change. I have had iTunes Match for 2 years now, and that has always been the case: If you delete a song that has not been downloaded to your computer, you are effectively deleting it from the cloud. Why would you want the service to keep a song that you don’t even have downloaded in your current library, and you tell the service to delete… I am confused as to what is it that you are arguing/wanting from the service…

      • londoner

        I’m not arguing about anything, it’s just that I expected iTunes Match to continue as a completely separate service to Apple Music and this is currently impossible to do (and personally to me it’s illogical but I know everyone will disagree with me).

        If you buy into Apple Music this takes over your iTunes Match content and that’s the big surprise.

        My dilemma, is what happens to all that content if I’ve changed it so much (because you’re immersed into it, you’re not going to keep notes on what you’re adding and deleting) when I stop paying the monthly fee.

        I think what I’ll do is I’ll either move the iTunes Match to a secondary Apple ID and build a fresh collection on my main Apple ID (which is why I was waiting for the service so impatiently!).
        All good really. Noone’s being negative; we’re just exchanging ideas.

      • londoner

        actually, wouldn’t it be great if it was in the terms and conditions of the service that when you leave the service you’ll always have all your original collection to re-download. Now that would be genius.
        I think this would take care of the hesitation people are showing currently. At the end of the day, by the second paid month, you’ve already paid for iTunes Match..

      • Davide

        right, It’s all good!
        As a suggestion, why don’t you have the column in the song browser that shows the cloud status of the song? That way I know which songs are matched/uploaded and which songs are from Apple music.

      • londoner

        yep done :) I also used that to make sure I have a second back up of the uploaded tracks that weren’t available in the store… just in case!

  • kavok

    This article is not true. According to the iTunes help inside iTunes, you MUST have iCloud Music Library checked if you want to use iTunes Match. This whole thing has gotten very confusing. There is no longer an option for iTunes Match in the Account menu. If you de-select iCloud Music Library, there is no option for iTunes Match anywhere.

    edit: Oddly enough, if you have preferences open and then go up to the Account menu, iTunes Match is ghosted along with all the other options in that menu. Closing preferences makes iTunes Match disappear again.

  • Frumunda

    Rob, Apple ABSOLUTELY IS replacing music I own with DRM copies if I remove and re-download the track. I am signed up for Apple Music and iTunes Match. I “Removed Download” on a track I own, then downloaded it again from Apple. It was a 128kbps AAC file with no DRM. It came back to me as a 256kbps AAC file with showing “Apple Music AAC audio file” in the “Kind” column. If I turn off “Show Apple Music” under Preferences, the track goes away. This is a track I own and have backed up.

    Instead of telling people to “Calm Down”, you should research this topic better with real-world examples.

    • & what makes you believe it contains DRM? Have you tried playing it in VLC & it refused to playback?

      PS. I’m genuinely curious.

      • Frumunda

        How about this… I just ripped a Smashing Pumpkins CD into iTunes. I set it to MP3 with 128kbps quality for the rip. It quickly “Matched” in iTunes. I did “Remove Download” for 1 track, then Downloaded it again from iCloud. It returned to iTunes as a 256kbps track in “Apple Music AAC audio file” form. When I went into my iTunes folder, that is the only track missing. It is now in a separate folder under Apple Music. Right clicking the file and going to properties shows it as “MPEG-4 Audio File (Protected) (.m4p)”.

        Apple Music and iTunes Match “Just Doesn’t Work”.

      • If you have iTunes Match it should download a DRM free file. Some sites have reported that people with an iTunes Match subscription should’ve download a DRM free but got a DRM-filled one from Apple Music (a bug?) and that logging out then back in and redownloading the file gave them a better one the 2nd time.

        Worth a try.

    • Allewsive

      I have iTunes Match, Apple Music Enabled, and iCloud Library Enabled… I own about 8,000 Songs. About 2,000 of them are “Uploaded” and the rest are “Matched” Status in my iCloud. So to see what the fuss is all about I deleted my entire iTunes Folder inside of the Music folder in Finder, logged out of my account in iTunes, and started from scratch.

      Starting iTunes back up again had the regular setup for iTunes 12.2 prompt, and I opted to sign-in to an iTunes Account using my normal Apple ID. It signed in and asked if I would like to use iCloud Music Library and I said yes. It took about 4 minutes on a 25Mb/s connection to populate my entire collection, playlists, album art, radio stations, and all my other Apple ID content for iTunes. I then went to the “My Music” section and sorted the library by “Songs”. With the “iCloud Status” column displayed, I sorted all of my songs by ‘iCloud Status” and selected everything from my library that was either “Uploaded” or “Matched”. All the music is currently downloading (the 8,000 or so songs) and I have opened 5 different albums inside of the Finder/ Music/ iTunes folder to see how everything is downloading. Regardless of whether is was “Matched” or “Uploaded” status in my iCloud Music Library, the downloaded file is playable in Windows Media Player via Parallels, Quicktime via OS X, and I can preview any file using OS X without iTunes open as well.

      Guess I can try to burn to a disc if you would like, or maybe send a track via Dropbox to another PC to see if they can play it without my Apple ID information if you want, but so far, nothing is causing an issue for my library with DRM.

      • Frumunda

        My next step is to uninstall iTunes and delete the music library. Then reinstall iTunes and plug my backup library back in. It will be a backup from before Apple Music came to town…

        I signed up for iTunes Match after subscribing to Apple Music. I’ve tried logging in and out of this, that, and the other…

  • If they’re songs purchased from the iTunes store, I suppose it’s still possible to go back to your purchased section & download them (DRM-free) again.

  • Dan

    So, I had two CDs which leaked yesterday (yeah yeah whatever) and put them into iTunes because that’s what I use to listen to music. Today I noticed that my torrents were no longer working because files are missing. I went into iTunes and removed the songs from iCloud, and also iTunes (it had uploaded them presumably) and checked back in my folder, and it was completely empty. Nothing in the recycle bin, none of the music I shadily acquired. Something is up here and I’m not really happy about whatever it is. Apple is doing some shady shit here and about to lose me as a customer.