I love iTunes Plus, Apple’s digital rights management (DRM)-free catalog of tracks in the iTunes music store — I’m buying music left and right on iTunes again. But I still have some iTunes tracks that I bought before the days when iTunes Plus was ubiquitous. Apple allows you to upgrade those to iTunes Plus, and has for a while, but there’s been a problem: It’s been all or nothing. That changed this week.
Now, rather than having to upgrade your whole library to iTunes Plus, you can choose to just update individual tracks or albums, as Macworld points out. Each track costs $0.30 to upgrade from DRM-laced to iTunes Plus and albums usually cost the amount of all their tracks added together.
While some still fail to see this transition to iTunes Plus (which will be complete for the entire iTunes music store by the end of the first quarter) as a big thing, I believe it’s one of the better moves that Apple has made for consumers in recent years. While most people may not even realize what DRM is, eventually, if Apple lost its dominating position in the digital media player market, a lot of people would have been stuck with a lot of music that wouldn’t play on devices made by anyone else.
It’s true that iTunes Plus tracks aren’t in MP3 format, but as long as they don’t have DRM attached to them, any manufacturer can make a device that plays the AAC format the songs are encoded in (which some argue is a better format than MP3 anyway).