Thursday, June 9, 2016 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Eliminating iTunes Store Music Downloads

Mitchel Broussard:

New sources have come forth claiming that Apple is in fact aiming to phase out digital music downloads on iTunes, despite the fact that Apple rep Tom Neumayr specifically stated such rumors were “not true” in May.


According to the sources, Apple might be gearing up for an iTunes revamp that would introduce software architecture with the ability for the company to “more easily drop iTunes music downloads” down the road. This would allow Apple to subtly shift the service towards the streaming and radio side of things in the event that paid music downloads drop off precipitously.

This would be very disappointing, if true.

Update (2016-06-16): Eddie Cue:

There’s no end date, and as a matter of fact, they should all be surprised and thankful to the results that they’re seeing because our music iTunes business is doing very well. Downloads weren’t growing, and certainly are not going to grow again, but it’s not declining anywhere near as fast as any of them predicted or thought it would. There are a lot of people who download music and are happy with it and they’re not moving towards subscriptions.

Update (2017-12-11): Chance Miller:

Digital Music News today reports that Apple is “on schedule” to rid the iTunes Store Music Store of downloads by 2019.

The report explains that the move to phase out music downloads has been in place since 2016, but in a statement to 9to5Mac, Apple denies the report and simply says “it’s not true.”

Update (2018-01-29): Binyamin Goldman:

Apple’s plan to replace digital music sales with Apple Music will be completed by late 2019, according to our sources. Users who own digital music will have their libraries merged with Apple Music. Users not on the service will be encouraged to join, however, if they choose not to they will still be able to listen to their library.


The continued life of this rumor befuddles me. You'd seemingly have to drop sales awfully low before it'd be a good business decision -- and even further before it's a good PR decision, for both users and music producers -- to stop cataloging and selling unDRMd content. How much does the iTMS make Apple? And songs are far and away the easiest of the files to sell. They also make artists the happiest, I'd bet. Buying the new Garbage album, eg, gives them nearly a month of a Music subscription directly into their pockets. How many streams before they make the same cash?

The only reason would be to pump Apple Music, but I've got to think most wanna-own-ers just go to Amazon or artists' sites instead -- or back to buying CDs -- rather than go to Apple for a Music subscription. Or they're already subs, and Apple is just spitting in its own face.

Unless this is a canary that record labels are going to eventually pull digital sales... Still, doesn't grok.

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