Did You Buy Music from Zune Before 2012? Please Read This

Posted on October 4, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Groove Music with 27 Comments

Did You Buy Music from Zune Before 2012? Please Read This

I received an email from Microsoft this morning alerting me that music I had purchased from the Zune service before 2012 would need to be downloaded or it will be lost forever. Here’s what happening … and how you can fix this.

As you may know, Microsoft launched Zune in 2006 to rival the iPod, and it was accompanied by the Zune Marketplace, for music purchases, and the Zune Music Pass subscription service. Over the year, Zune evolved first into Xbox Music and more recently into Groove, and in doing so, some features have changed from time to time as well.

Back in the heady early days of Zune, purchased music was still protected by DRM (digital rights management) technology, and Microsoft naturally used its in-house WMA (Windows Media Audio) file format instead of the industry-standard MP3 format because WMA offers better sound quality and smaller file sizes. But as with the rest of the music industry, Microsoft later did switch to MP3, which of course is unburdened by DRM restrictions.

What I had never contemplated, however, was that music purchased (and downloaded) from Zune before 2012 was still in a DRM-protected WMA format, and these files have continued working as we’ve moved from Zune to Xbox Music and then to Groove. But that is about to change.

“As an original Zune customer, we appreciate you being a part of our music community from the start,” the Microsoft email reads. “As you know, we’ve continuously worked to evolve our music app and service, and with that evolution, some of our original licensing arrangements are expiring.”

“Our records show that you purchased music on Zune prior to 2012, so we’re 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,” the email continues. “If you have not already obtained licenses for outstanding purchased DRM tracks, you will be unable to play WMA DRM files locally after March 11, 2017.”

Fortunately, Microsoft is of course letting customers download their purchased music in license-free MP3 format. So you have until March 11, 2017 to download any purchased tracks from Groove so you can keep using them. (For example, you can upload them to OneDrive, where they can continue to be accessed by Groove.)

A Microsoft support page explains the various issues around Zune DRM-protected music. But you should be able to find all your purchased music using Groove for Windows 10. To do so, open Groove and navigate to the Albums, Artists, or Songs view. Then, select “Sort by” and choose “Date added,” and select “Filter” and choose “Purchased.” Now, you will see your purchased music: Just select what you want and download it to your PC.


Looks like I’ve got some downloading to do.


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Sort by Votes | Date
  1. 7 | Reply
    mike2k Alpha Member #1349 - 3 months ago

    I miss zune 😕

    1. 0 | Reply
      Jeff_S Alpha Member #2441 - 3 months ago
      In reply to mike2k: agree 100%.  I still use mine, but only for FM radio.  Yeah, some of us still listen to that.  For me, it's a local morning show in the PHX area.  I'd croak without being able to listen! :)
      Otherwise, the Zune interface was the best I've ever used, and I miss it to this day.  What a shame...


    2. 0 | Reply
      mike2k Alpha Member #1349 - 3 months ago
      In reply to Jeff_S:

      I still use my ZuneHD when I run. Fits nicely on my arm as opposed to trying to strap a phablet on my body and run with that thing

    3. 0 | Reply
      ind1g0 Alpha Member #1610 - 3 months ago
  2. 1 | Reply
    Jaxidian Alpha Member #791 - 3 months ago

    Why wouldn't they just automatically send them to OneDrive for Groove integration themselves? That shouldn't cost them much of anything and would make long-time customers happier. Or at least give the user a button to do this themselves. But this should be automatic imho.

    1. 2 | Reply
      Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 3 months ago
      In reply to Jaxidian:

      It's a bit of a privacy no-no to have Microsoft automatically use up space in your online storage with arbitrary files without your consent.

    2. 2 | Reply
      jr.flynn Alpha Member #424 - 3 months ago
      In reply to Jaxidian:

      Automatically would require that the individual is a user of OneDrive and that they have the space available. Allowing users to do that after opting in would be a good idea and probably could occur much faster than the manual download process.

  3. 0 | Reply
    charms55 Alpha Member #1608 - 3 months ago

    just did this last night. Relatively painless considering Alli the music I have. I'm a little less certain of their later now about songs no longer in t catalog. That is tri take a cd and burn the tracks. Keep us posted on that.

  4. 0 | Reply
    harmjr Alpha Member #1431 - 3 months ago

    I am surprised this has taken so long.

    I remember rippig all of my itunes AAC files into mp3s a long time ago. 

  5. 0 | Reply
    nys Alpha Member #2362 - 3 months ago

    Tron OST +1

  6. 0 | Reply
    evox81 Alpha Member #1939 - 3 months ago

    "For example, you can upload them to OneDrive, where they can continue to be accessed by Groove."

    I would add a warning that Microsoft frequently deletes music you have legally purchased from Groove, mostly recent popular stuff, from OneDrive "at the request of the copyright holder". And unless you're a Music Pass subscriber, they also restrict streaming of those same songs. While OneDrive is a great option, I highly recommend you keep a copy of anything you purchase on something other than OneDrive. And in case your phone ever fails unexpected, I don't recommend that as the place where you keep said copy.

  7. 0 | Reply
    zybch Alpha Member #2568 - 3 months ago

    I have several movies I purchased via Zune.  Any idea if the same cut off would apply to those in addition to music?

  8. 0 | Reply
    mmcpher Alpha Member #245 - 3 months ago

    This isn't directly related, and if it's IIRC, but a few years back there was a big Microsoft "Music Deals" promotional offer wherein you could pick a number of albums and get them for free.  Which I did and promptly lost sight and sound of them, and haven't heard from them since?    

  9. 0 | Reply
    EricJilot Alpha Member #827 - 3 months ago

    That great provided that they still have it in thier catalog. Which in my case most are not.

    1. 0 | Reply
      beckerrt Alpha Member #2178 - 3 months ago
      In reply to EricJilot:

      Same here, most of the Zune music I purchased is already unavailable for whatever reason. Kind of frustrating, but I was able to download most of it previously. 

  10. 0 | Reply
    wbhite Alpha Member #120 - 3 months ago

    About 9 years ago I set out to find and convert all of my DRM'd music to MP3 and spent a few days doing so (while also adding missing album art and other metatags).  I had purchased music from Walmart and at least a couple other sources (that I can't remeber) that used to be showcased in the Windows Media Player application - all DRM'd WMA files.  It was a pain in the ass but worth the effort.

  11. 0 | Reply
    DaddyBrownJr Alpha Member #1342 - 3 months ago

    "Some songs might play in the Zune software even though they’re not in the Groove music catalog. To preserve those songs, burn them to an audio CD."

    Are you kindding me?