iTunes Plus Upgrades: Now Serving Singles

When Apple first announced it was going DRM-free at Macworld 2009, they set up a system where users who previously bought the old, lower quality, copy-protected music could upgrade to the new, higher-quality, non-protected music for $0.30 per single track.

Problem: it was all or nothing. If you had 100 tracks, you had to upgrade every single one of them, all at once, which would set you back $30 (or $300 for 1000 tracks). Now, Macworld (via TUAW) says Apple has seen the light, bowed to pressure, or otherwise fixed the lame, and is allowing users to pick and choose, and upgrade only the music they want on a per track basis.

So, head on over to iTunes to see which of your music tracks [iTunes link] are eligible for upgrade, but make sure you have 1-Click enabled (for now, to avoid some sort of glitch in the system).

Seems like a great step in the right direction for us. Anyone more likely to upgrade now that we don't have all-or-nothing dangling over us?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iTunes Plus Upgrades: Now Serving Singles


I would definitely update some but not all. Since buying certain singles, I've since bought albums that have those songs, and have no interest in paying more for them again. But iTunes does have some unique remixes that I'd like to get unlocked for my car stereo USB port.

WTF apple! So what about those of us who already upgraded our entire library??? We getting a refund?
Another kick in the arse for being an early adopter.
F U apple.

I emailed customer service, this was their reply:
I hope you're doing well today! I understand that you've heard that the iTunes Store is allowing upgrades to iTunes Plus Content on a song to song basis rather than having to upgrade your entire library and you would like a refund because you have already upgrade your entire library.
Your request for a refund for your iTunes Plus upgrade was carefully considered; however, according to the iTunes Store Terms of Sale, all purchases made on the iTunes Store are final. This policy matches Apple's refund policies and provides protection for copyrighted materials.
iTunes Plus upgrades have always been on the entire content of your library, not a song to song basis.
I realize the option to upgrade your entire library or nothing at all is inconvenient and honestly quite expensive for some of our customers. I myself have decided not to upgrade my entire library due to these factors. I encourage you to leave your opinion about this issue on our Feedback page. More than once I've seen changes done to the iTunes Store solely on the feedback we receive from our great customers.
Your efforts to share your feedback are very much appreciated.
Thanks again for being a valuable iTunes Store Customer. Have a great one!
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you. You may receive an AppleCare survey email; any feedback you provide would be greatly appreciated.

Good grief, Steve, you act as if Apple is your friend who has screwed you over. (Maybe it feels that way.) The fact is that this is a change in policy, but we can't expect them to go back in time and make this retroactively effective. I bet if they had it the way they REALLY want it, they would force everyone into the all-or-nothing upgrade. Apple is a business, not your friend, and they have enough emotional collateral with the public to piss off a few early adopters for their larger business interests.

I get it - but changing policy after 2 weeks? This was intentional. Get the schmucks like me to overpay for songs I had forgot I even downloaded and once maxed out, get more people in on this a la carte basis. Dont even toss them a bone with some % credit of what was paid.
I could see if it were a few months later like with the iPhone repricing but this really does put a bad taste in my mouth because the concept of all or nothing was so egregious from the beginning.
Anyway, sorry for the vent and I will just move to other avenues to download music and video. No need to be as loyal as I have been since its not rewarded.

While I do think Apple does everything they can to soak early adopters of every cent they can, I believe in this case Apple has been doing "all or nothing" on iTunes Plus since it was first announced a long, long time back with EMI as the only supporting label.
After they flipped the switch to DRM-free across the catalog, the same upgrade engine (all or nothing) was still in place.
Now they've changed it. (Again, after soaking early adopters who -- at this point -- really should know they're being soaked as often as possible, right?)

I'd be quite happy to use the Update All feature, if it were even remotely accurate. When I buy an album, I will occasionally burn it to a CD right away, and then re-import it as MP3s (replacing the iTunes originals), thereby removing DRM. I rarely will do this when buying a single track; it's just too much trouble.
Sadly, my "Buy All" feature somehow includes all those albums that I've already converted to MP3's. I wish there were someway around that. Frankly... the whole burn to CD is a pain, and I would likely pay to upgrade everything, if it better identified the apple "protected" tracks/albums. (And yes, I realize that the upgrade is also including a higher quality track, and that might explain why I still see those tracks... too bad my old ears can't hear any difference).