So, I’ve decided to put a Sonos system into the new house. For now, anyway – it will be many months before I have to actually buy any components. Maybe I’ll find something else. Maybe not. Can’t never tell.
From what I’ve read, Sonos can use your iTunes library. And since that lives on a NAS it will be available 24/7. So that’s awesome. What it can’t do is read songs that have been ‘protected’ by Apple’s DRM stuff – it doesn’t use your iTunes account, so it can’t unlock any protected songs. It can only read the DRM-free songs.
Luckily, Apple stopped using DRM on music in 2009, so I only needed to worry about stuff purchased through iTunes before then.
iTunes can show you if a song is protected or not, and you can sort the songs using that as the criteria. Doing that showed 3,700 protected songs – out of 22000.
The easiest way to strip the DRM from a song is to burn it to an audio CD then import the song back into iTunes. But, 3,700 songs, average 4 minutes each is 14,800 minutes. That’s 185 80 min CDRs to burn and rip. With a burner/reader that averages 10x, that’s more than 24 hours of burner time. Drag.
But, Apple has this thing called “Match” which is a way to get your music library into Apple’s ‘cloud’ so you can play it on any iOS device. It scans your library, figures out which songs you actually have and makes a downloadable version available for you, on any device you authorize. $24.99/year. So, sign up for Match, let it scan your library, identify the DRM’d songs and delete them from your library (not the actual files, just the entries in the library). Then, tell Match to download new copies of the songs you deleted and … voila ! DRM-free songs ! Takes forever with a library of that size, and since it’s iTunes there were many freezes, false-starts and failures before it actually worked. Sometimes iTunes is smart enough to do work in the background, and it can show you ‘progress’ messages. Sometimes it puts all the work on the same thread that’s doing the UI, so it just freezes, and you can’t tell if it’s working or if it’s dead unless you let it sit for an hour or so. But in the end, after a couple of days of fighting with it, it worked.
It worked for most of them. In some cases, the record company never released non-DRM versions so Apple can’t provide them. In other cases, Match couldn’t identify the song so it couldn’t provide a non-DRM version. In other cases, Saturn’s moons weren’t aligned properly so random songs from an album couldn’t be identified even though all the other songs on the album could. But, in the end, I was left with 460 songs that Match couldn’t handle; and that’s only ~23 CDs. So, I did the burn and rip thing for those, then deleted all the protected songs for real. And now, all my music is DRM free.