Microsoft Stops Supporting MSN Music DRM, Tells You To Hurry Up And Transfer Your Songs

David says:

Yet another reason not to buy DRM music. They are telling us that we have to burn our music to CD format since no additional computers or devices can be authorized after August 31, 2008. So let’s see. Burn to CD, then rip said CD to MP3. Couldn’t they just give us a tool to do it for us, just this once?

David forwarded a copy of the email Microsoft sent him about the expiring DRM. Reading it gives us a headache.

MSN Music is constantly striving to provide you, our user, with the most compelling music experience that we can. We want to tell you about an upcoming change to our support service to ensure you have a seamless experience with the music you’ve downloaded from MSN Music.

As you may recall from a November 14, 2006 mail, we entered into a new partnership for music downloads. The Zune Marketplace can be accessed directly from any MSN Music artist page and offers users thousands of tracks for users to download individually or with a season pass subscription. You can still come to MSN Music to find all the latest news and previews of your favorite artists and songs, but in order to buy music, we’ll take you to our partners at the Zune Marketplace.

With the launch of our partnership with Zune Marketplace, we closed the MSN Music store and stopped selling music directly from MSN Music. However, we have continued to offer assistance and support for existing songs that you’ve purchased from MSN Music, including help to transfer songs that you’ve purchased to additional computers and MSN Music compatible devices.

I am writing to let you know that as of August 31, 2008, Microsoft will change the level of support to be offered for music purchased directly from MSN Music prior to November 14, 2006. As of August 31, 2008, we will no longer be able to support the retrieval of license keys for the songs you purchased from MSN Music or the authorization of additional computers. License keys already obtained as of August 31, 2008 will continue to allow you to listen to songs on all the computers that you previously authorized for service.

We wanted to send out this notification well in advance to remind you to backup your music and to provide you sufficient time to confirm license keys for the songs you’ve purchased from MSN Music.

This is also a good time to remind you that you can back up and secure your music by burning your purchased songs and playlists to CD. With Windows Media Player, you can burn your own Audio CDs from the music stored in your library. Complete instructions for this can be found at MSN Music online help.

Please take this opportunity to make sure you have the licenses you need to access your music. As a friendly reminder, please remember that the MSN Music service allows you to authorize up to 5 computers for songs purchased from MSN Music. You must have licenses for the songs on each authorized computer, in order to be able to play the songs successfully. If you have already played a given song on a computer, then you have successfully obtained the license key for that song. MSN Music keys do not expire. If you intend to transfer a previously downloaded song to a new computer (or an existing computer with a new operating system, such as an upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista) within the maximum allowed limit of 5 computers, please do so before August 31, 2008. You will need to obtain a license key for each of your songs downloaded from MSN Music on any new computer, and you must do so before August 31, 2008. If you attempt to transfer your songs to additional computers after August 31, 2008, those songs will not successfully play.

If you have additional questions about this process or any other questions about playing your music, please visit MSN Music online help for more information or feel free to contact our Technical Support representatives for assistance, prior to the August 31, 2007 date.

I’d like to personally thank you for your continued support of MSN Music and encourage you to send us your feedback and suggestions about how we can continue to improve the MSN Music experience.

Rob Bennett
General Manager, MSN Entertainment & Video Services

You know with a system this elegant and effortless, we’re really surprised that DRM music hasn’t been a smashing success.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    I actually want some wide-spread DRM failure to make people realize it’s a bad idea. I don’t think the general public are aware that a company can just pull the plug like this.

  2. RandoX says:

    “Seamless experience”… Oh yeah, there will be one seam, and that’s where you have to burn all your music and re-rip it. Because if you don’t, you could lose it all. Other than that, seamless.

  3. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    Does FairUse4WMA still work?

  4. FLConsumer says:

    @AustinTXProgrammer: Still using it here to pillage, er, download albums by the dozens from Ruckus. Works like a charm.

  5. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    @RandoX: At that point your compressed music has just been re-compressed, making it even more lossy than before.

  6. scoobydoo says:

    They could have condensed that entire letter into just a couple of words. Probably something with “screwed” and “sucker”.

  7. hubris says:

    THIS is the absolute bullshit that is DRM. Sure, you can use music you’ve purchased, but only on things we tell you you can use it on, only in a specific number of places, oh and we may, at any time, pull the plug and leave you twisting in the damn wind. But hey, we’re giving you plenty of notice we’re going to take you in the ass.

    Any mild compulsion I may have ever had to buy music from a DRM-laden company has long since gone out the window. I will not live under some company’s mandated fiat.

  8. GotanOrange says:

    How does microsoft manage to continually fuck themselves to bad?

  9. dix99 says:

    And the MS users listened to everything they told & sold them & they followed. All because they would NEVER be an iPod, or Mac user. How many times does MS have to abuse it’s customers, before people catch on. I for one have found other alternatives to their products, so now I don’t use them. It’s up to you to make sure you don’t get burned again.

  10. Parting says:

    I hate DMR.

    I find it’s cheaper, in the long run, to buy CDs or DMR-free music.

    No wonder pirating flourishes. Why pay and go through a lot of hassle, when you can get hassle-free music for ”free”.

    By the way, in Canada, we already paying a tax on mp3 players/CD-ROMS to ”compensate” industry losses due to pirating. Another idiotic idea, that just penalizes honest people, who pay twice to listen to their music.

  11. FLConsumer says:

    @omerhi: Ruckus is even worse… You can only listen to it for 30 days. Want to copy it to your music player? It better be approved by them, as they insist on you using a player that will also time out after 30 days.

    FairUse4WMA FTW.

  12. Parting says:

    @dix99: You can put DMR free mp3s on iPod.

  13. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    @omerhi: I avoid DRM as much as possible. Only when there are no alternatives (Xbox Live Arcade) and only when my willpower is nil (Xbox Live Arcade) do I open my wallet for DRM-laden content.

    In the case of music, buy from Amazon or someplace else that sells DRM-free MP3s.

  14. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    @Diet-Orange-Soda: Or better yet, buy the CD or vinyl. I will cry the day physical media dies.

  15. GotanOrange says:

    so* bad.

  16. rickhamilton620 says:

    @Diet-Orange-Soda: Actually, Sony got in trouble for adding DRM to it’s music cd’s after the program installed rootkits on people’s computers: []

  17. Jaysyn was banned for: says:

    DRM = BAD!

    Maybe now people will wake up & look around.

    Of course I’m assuming that people actually bought music from MSN.

  18. rickhamilton620 says:

    oops sorry Diet-Orange-Soda, I thought you said “… physical media does” as in it gets DRM.

    my bad :)

  19. dix99 says:


    I believe burning music to a CD, then pulling it of, will remove the DRM if it is locked.
    Also, the iTunes Plus catalog is now the largest DRM-free catalog in the world. As with the format, you might want to convert your music to AAC, as it’s better than the MP3 format. As for noticing any difference, I’ve never tested it, as my ears ain’t that good. Apple does have iTunes for both Mac & PC & if you don’t like it, thats fine, try something else.

  20. Dawnrazor says:

    This is EXACTLY why there will always be a place for physical media. Up to this point, I have never downloaded (legally or otherwise) any of my music, and this story reinforces this practice. When I plop a physical CD on the tray and press “Play” I have no hassles, waiting, DRM issues, system crashes, or other such nonsense to interfere with my musical enjoyment. Sure, I use (and love) an iPOD, but ALL my music is ripped from CDs; I pay about the same for the CD as I would downloading the album, and receive the following benefits (vs. downloading): tangible, permenant storage for the music which is MUCH more reliable than a HD (I have CDs from 1984 which play with no problems in any player-how many HDs from 1984 do you imagine still work?), artwork/liner notes/artwork on disc itself, MUCH better sound (until someone starts offering uncompressed 14/44 or 24/96 downloads), and no stupid restrictions regarding hardware “authorization” or other such nonsense.

    I think some people are under the impression that one cannot fully dive into the world of computer audio unless they participate in iTunes/MSN Music/Napster/Etc., but this is simply not true and one can get much better performance (in terms of sound quality) by ripping from CDs at a higher bit rate than what the download services offer (usually a paltry 128kbps-such a ripoff when you consider that the uncompressed CD costs roughly the same, gives you something tangible, and has no idiotic restrictions on how/when it can be played (the Sony rootkit debacle a few years back notwithstanding)-really, the music buying public is being sold a bill of goods by MS, Apple, Napster, etc.).

  21. Skeptic says:

    ‘d like to personally thank you for your continued support of MSN Music and encourage you to send us your feedback and suggestions about how we can continue to improve the MSN Music experience.

    Rob Bennett
    General Manager, MSN Entertainment & Video Services

    I’ve got a suggestion. How about you don’t turn off the servers!!! Like Microsoft can’t afford them.

    How can MS be this stupid?

    It looks like we need a law that says if they turn of the DRM key servers that they should have to provide a way to permanently remove the DRM.

  22. rickhamilton620 says:

    @Skeptic: They could say, Hey with it being the week of Earth Day and all, we at Microsoft decided that this was for the best! Think of all the energy we’ll save.

  23. Mr. Gunn says:

    My music, my equipment, my process.

    Why is it that anything having to do with music, be it ticket sales or music downloads, has “screw the consumer” as part of its business model?

  24. Balisong says:

    But didn’t the RIAA just tell us that burning music to a CD is illegal?

  25. mavrc says:

    …and that’s why you don’t buy DRMed media. Encrypted media (DVD/Bluray) is bad enough.

  26. jimv2000 says:

    I don’t know for sure, but you could probably “burn” your music to an ISO file and save yourself the CD.

  27. Randomeis says:

    First Sony then Microsoft.
    At least Sony offered a work around, although it was a PITA one. (burn a cd then rip mp3s off of that, though soft ware to batch convert their DRM stuff back to mp3 would have been nice)

    Do the poor PlayForSure souls even have that option?

  28. ShortBus says:

    Yes, yes… you can burn the songs to CD and then rerip them into DRM-free MP3s if you really want to. However, the audio file was lossy compressed when you first downloaded it. “Lossy” meaning that parts of the sound was discarded when it was encoded. If you rip and recompress the song again (especially with a different file format), *more* parts of the sound are discarded.

    Which, I guess is fine–if you don’t mind paying for FM-radio quality music. I personally just refuse to buy DRM laden music. I rip my own CDs into lossless FLACs.

  29. lemur says:

    @Balisong: Anything you ever do with music is illegal. Except paying for it. You can always pay but anything else is illegal.

  30. crichton007 says:

    There is a tool to rip the DRM off of WIndows DRM’d files. It’s called FairUse4WM. Go Google it and you’ll be able to find it. It only works on files that are currently licensed to the computer you’re trying to un-DRM them on.

  31. Amazon has DRM-free mass-market music in their music store. For those of you who find mainstream music boring, there’s also the DRM-free podsafe music network.

  32. yagisencho says:

    Dawnrazor +1

    All of my music (aside from fan-made remixes) comes from CDs that I have purchased and ripped and encoded to whatever digital format I like. When the day comes that they stop pressing music CDs, they’d best the hell release the ISOs, or my music purchasing will come to an end.

  33. trujunglist says:

    That’s why I don’t buy lossy, locked down digital files. Those of you that do should probably take this as an important warning. What happens with Apple decides that the iTunes music store is no longer viable.
    (Disclaimer: I’ve used Apple products for my entire life, so I know a thing or two about getting your support dropped for no reason).

  34. trustsatan says:

    hee hee – this is hilarious, only because I’ve never purchased any MS-tainted audio files myself… they are, in effect, saying: “Well, if you haven’t stolen this music yet (by burning and re-ripping) you now HAVE TO or else you’ll lose it forever.” HAW HAW.

    Like many other commenters on this thread, if there is any music out there I plan on playing through a real stereo at some point (car, PC, living room) I buy the real thing – mp3s are garbage comparatively. Someday the bandwidth will exist to sell AACs or FLACs online, but until then the “online music” revolution is really just more of a fad…

  35. CyberSkull says:

    This is what I have been saying about DRM, what happens when the key servers finally go dark on a service?

  36. thomas_callahan says:

    “change the level of support” indeed. The PR stink on this letter is sickening. It’s just amazing that that letter is 95% marketing and only 5% explaining the problem, and even that 5% is written so that it sounds “super!”. I know PR people exist specifically to spin things like this in as positive a manner as possible, but this is just absurd. If you’re writing me to tell me I’m SOL, get to the point!

    And yeah, the licenses don’t expire, but the computer using them does — maybe the solution is to never upgrade Windows again… hmm…

  37. cerbie says:

    If there were ever a time to blame the victim, this is it.