TunesKit — Make offline backups for Apple Music content

Streaming is the most popular and accessible way to listen to music yet the number of competitive services can be daunting. For Apple fans the best experience is clearly Apple Music as it was designed primarily for iOS and MacOS. The trouble with music streaming however is that you are heavily dependent on internet access and DRM restricts access to certified devices. There are however third party services that get around the stringent security of the Apple Music protected .m4p music files so you can keep backups and play music on unofficial media players. Here we review TunesKit Apple Music Converter for MacOS.

TunesKit is a lightweight app for MacOS that creates backup music files from Apple Music using iTunes. Upon opening TunesKit offers you to reopen iTunes if it is already open so it can work. Once open you can drag Apple Music files (.m4p) into TunesKit to add it to the "Convert" list or use the built in music browser by clicking "Add Files". You can only convert files that have already been downloaded there is no way of stream > backup yet.
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Once added to the "Convert" list pressing the button starts the conversion from .m4p to chosen output without DRM. Each music file takes just a few seconds each so whole albums can be ripped within a minute. There is a progress bar for each song so you can keep an eye on the progress. If you check iTunes during this time you will see that the coveted songs are being played at high speed so iTunes is unusable during conversion.
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There is a wide selection of file formats that can be exported to. File formats supported are MP3, M4A, M4B, AAC, WAV and FLAC. For MP3/M4A available sample rates are 22050, 32000, 44100, 48000 Hz and BitRates 64, 96, 128, 160, 192, 256, 320 kbps. I personally would suggest using MP3 or M4A at 48000 Hz and 256 kbps for good quality but portable music file size. If file size is not a problem then go for high quality FLAC file format.

Audio quality for these backup files are extremely good and I would say identical to iTunes purchased music quality. Using TunesKit however most likely voids your user agreement so that is a choice for you to make. Downloading unprotected music files allow you to play on unsupported devices or without access to iTunes but these plays will not benefit the artist that made the music. Another strong consideration to make is that TunesKit works perfectly at present but this may change in the future if Apple Music can prevent this app from working. I have seen multiple updates since using TunesKit that have ensured compatibility with new iTunes versions this is a risk however for the future.

Overall TunesKit works extremely well and the developers shows promise that they will continue to support the application with incremental compatibility updates.

Get TunesKit here
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