Zune Music songs from before 2012 will need to be converted to MP3 files soon

Microsoft is sending out emails to people who purchased songs from its old Zune Music service, informing them that if they bought tunes from before 2012, they will need to be converted to MP3 files in the near future.

Zune Music email

The email, via Dan Roth on Twitter, states:

Our records show that you purchased music on Zune prior to 2012, so we are writing to let you know that as of March 12, 2017, we will no longer be issuing licenses to WMA-protected (DRM) tracks purchased prior to 2012. If you have not obtained licenses for outstanding purchased DRM tracks, you will be unable to play WMA DRM files locally after March 11, 2017.

Microsoft says those former Zune Music customers will be able to download MP3 versions of those songs for free, either via the Windows 10 Groove Music app, or on the music.microsoft.com (opens in new tab) website. More information on this transition can be found on Microsoft's support page (opens in new tab).

  • Recieved this email but have no way to tell which songs were from before 2012. Its been ages obviously since I originally purchased those songs. Probably listened to different music back then
  • Same here.. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • There must be a way to just convert ALL our wma files to mp3 with a third party program. Much easier than trying to figure out which ones will expire.
  • Not if they are protected.
  • There is, but you're further degrading the sound file, going from lossy (wma) to lossy (mp3).   You're better off either repurchasing the music in a lossless format, either the physical CD or a FLAC file, or repurchasing from a music store where there isn't doubt about their future support (Amazon, iTunes). My advice is, go to Amazon, find a cheap used CD of the music in doubt, and buy that.  You can also find cheap used CDs on ebay and even local yard and garage sales.   I once bought most of this guy's entire CD collection at a  local yard sale, about 40 cds for $10. Once you have the disk, rip the music in whatever format you desire.
  • Good advice
  • I disagree. The solution should not be to buy it again. This is a situation where I would go download it from a torrent site. If you legally own the license you shouldn't be responsible for converting it's format, or be subjected to "damaging" the file.
  • There must be a way to create a fake CD in your computer so you don't need to buy real CDs. Posted via the Windows Central App for MS-DOS
  • Yes, ISO's.
  • If you have WMA files in your collection that you did not rip yourself, then they probably fit this description, I would think.
  • Check your music files. If they're WMA files, replace them.
  • Not that easy. I use music pass and only seldom save the files locally (playlists and fav albums mostly). Unless I saved all 80gbs of files down to my phone, there's no way for me to know which is WMA
  • Groove is WMA
  • Um, no.  And has not been for several years.
  • I just downloaded an album 5 minutes ago.
    Also groove hasn't been around for "several years". Just one.
  • If you don't mind me asking, which album was it?  I have been a Groove (et al) subscriber pretty much since the beginning and I don't recall ever seeing DRM on any purchased music in several years.
  • He said he downloaded an album. Never indicated he purchased. Could explain the confusion you two are having
  • That would explain it.  The article is specifically about purchased music, so I just made the assumption.
  • I indicated groove, unless you suggesting the Microsoft platform is not legit.
  • Your issue was WMA.
    WMA and DRM are different things.
    Ciara Jackie [deluxe
  • Microsoft enforced DRM via WMA for Zune.  I had assumed you were talking about music purchases, not rentals (licensed downloads), so we are talking about different things.
  • What format was Zune? Did they try to do some dumb assed special format for that player like for the iPod?
  • I believe they were wma format. Windows Media audio. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Ah, I remember now, thanks. I always downloaded in MP3 if I could anyway. Why not be universal?
  • Because MP3s sound like **** when played on decent speakers/headphones.
  • Really? Even at 320 bit rate? I guess I have nothing but crappy speakers then. =P
  • Yeah, I figured this official statement was more of a way for Microsoft to cover their backside, legally or PR-wise, because if you have a library full of music on your hard drive (or your Zune device), how would one even know which ones were WMA-DRM encoded from before 2012?   Is there a date stamp or something, or a signifier if you Right-Click Properties, that something was purchased in the Zune store? From a technical perspective, I also don't understand how the song rights would 'expire' if it was *purchased* and encoded in WMA, even if it was DRM'd.
  • Thanks! I was missing my weekly kick in the gut from Microsoft...
  • It's also kind of hilarious that the subtext is, Microsoft saying that for true cross compatability, always encode your music in something *other* than WMA or avoid buying anything WMA encoded with DRM, from a Microsoft music store. Gun, meet Feet.
  • It amazes me how Microsoft continually makes obsolete their music services. Plays For Sure, then Zune and presumably next Groove as they migrate onto something new and better and entirely incompatible with past services. Sigh. 
  • I hope you realize that your statement is not correct. Zune used DRM, which was required by the music industry. Music purchased in the windows store today do not use DRM. This is early verifiable by importing such a song into an editing program like Premiere Pro. No DRM also means no problems.
  • What the article doesn't say is that you don't have to do anything unless you have old DRM'ed WMA files sitting around from back then. Your purchases will continue to be available through Groove and can be downloaded as MP3 at any time (as long as they're still in the catalogue). It's just that if you have downloaded and kept the DRM'ed WMA files before, those files will not play anymore.
  • This helps a lot actually. Thank you
  • Lol. "PlaysForSure" never really meant what it thinks it meant. Can't trust Microsoft for late-to-game products.
  • I remember owning a PlaysForSure certified device, a Creative Zen Vision M, but I was wary of DRMd music even back then, so just loaded it up with my own ripped music.
  • Go to Settings-> Account-> Pruchase History -> Download.   (I hope that works. I got the email too)   
  • Ha I still like the way when checking my subscriptions I'm still paying for my zune pass not Xbox music not groove music but zune. Long live zune!
  • There should be an option to auto save all music purchased before 2012 to users' music folder on OneDrive without the penalties of losing allotted space. Same should go with anything purchased in video format. This offers the option to stream as well as download. It's not the customer's fault they bought into an ecosystem that will eventually be abandoned from a company that has been doing this each year. Microsoft not giving this option is short sighted and it seems they are not interested in their customers actually using their current products to It's full potential.
  • How do you know if your WMA files are DRM protected. Just open the folder(s) with WMA files in a File Explorer window. Change the View to Details, right click the top columns headers and select the "Protected" option. Now you will see which files are DRM protected or No https://1drv.ms/i/s!At0kdpvfEUyfn448vBUfwMdHwVekkw Check the "Protected" column on the right side of the screen capture above.
  • Yeah... I'm not going to go through and figure this out, my music is nicely organized into subfolders and there's thousands of wma files I can't filter down into protected or unprotected. I'll just download them all over again and replace the source files. The best part is that a good portion of them no longer even exist on the store because Zune/XBM/Groove have an awesome habit of replacing albums with new versions constantly. No regrets getting rid of Groove, feel like Microsoft doesn't care at all about its customers anymore.
  • Use *.wma, view -> details -> click on the protected column. This will show you which are protected and not protected.
  • Is there an easy way to figure this out? Really this is soooooooo f up! Go through every file/song ..... no way! May just stop using this BS service I've been using for years now. F it!
  • I understand why they're doing this, but Microsoft could make it less painful for its customers. They know which tracks were purchased, why not just add them to the Groove library so they can be downloaded again?
  • *sigh*...I miss Zune. Still use my Zune HD from time-to-time but what I really miss is the Zune software and Social.
  • Anyone else noticing that a lot of the songs they purchased are "no longer in the catalog"? I have over 160 songs that are both DRM protected AND not in the catalog, leaving me out all that money... Has anyone received help from MS on this?