Without getting into too much detail (i'll save that for my blog), suffice it to say, I HATE DRM! I have several players, including an HP RX1955 that claims to be Plays4Sure, that will not play DRM-ed files. Two of them will only play mp3s at 128kbps or lower at 44100Hz.
That being Said, I love Real Rhapsody's Rhapsody 2 Go! The ability to stream, download, and carry with me as many music files as I like in a month for 14.99 is awesome, and the speed and quality of the streaming is really exemplary. The only problem is the damn DRM and the related issues of older hardware, compatibility, and backup, as well as the limitations it places on my ownership rights.
Therefore, I'll be outlining here my ( theoretical ;-) of course ) process for creating more usable and morally acceptable forms of these files. The process, if carried out, may be illegal under the seriously screwed up "legalities" of the RIAA. Please utilize this "fair use" information only for informational purposes, and don't blame me if they terminate your service based on speculation.
Step 1: Find Your Programs
The programs involved are all freeware, and readily available. I will provide links for the non-controversial programs, but I will not provide a link, or tech support for the "questionable" one. My only suggestion is "google".
I suggest the following programs:
1) fairuse4wm.exe - this is the "questionable" program. It finds existing keys on your system and uses them to figure out and decrypt wma and wmv files, removing their DRM. (or something like that... it just works)
2) Jodix Free WMA to MP3 Converter - easy to use, simple, but limited.
3) ID3-TagIT 3 - finish off by tagging your new MP3s
Step 2: "Fair Use"-ify the Suckers
First download the tracks you like in Rhapsody by right-clicking on songs in your library/playlist and choosing download.
Next open fairuse4wm.exe and click recover keys. If this fails your computer may need a security upgrade from Microsoft that you can get by downloading and playing and DRM2 song... if you google the error, there are lots of links to solutions.
Third click next and add the files you previously downloaded. they are normally in my music, and you can add the whole folder if you like.
Finally choose an output location (i like "my documents/My DRM FREE Music") and click next. wait and click finish.
You now have DRM free copies of the WMA files. This is enough for many players to handle, and will not lose any quality. The next step converts a lossy format to another lossy format, thereby losing quality; however, it allows playback on simpler, older, or buggier players such as my "Mattel Juice Box" and my VR3 VRFM8BLN car mp3/wma player/fm transmitter.
Step 3: Convert to MP3 & Tag
Open up the Jodix Converter
First, choose "add files" and select one file, or just drag a whole folder into the task list
Second, choose output location and name for the first file and click next
Third, choose encoding options. I'm using 128kbps constant bitrate at 44100Hz Joint Stereo... that should play on almost anything.
Fourth (optional), set your ID3 tags. You can do it here a file at a time, or if your doing full albums you can label them later with ID3-TagIT. If you're going to tag them later, You can tell the encoder to use the same settings for every file; otherwise, you'll have to confirm your settings and tag each file.
Fifth, click start, kick back, and wait.
Step 4: Voila
You've now got much more useful and liberated mp3s. If you haven't already tagged them, load up ID3-TagIT and have at them; otherwise, you're done.