Since 2001, both Mac and PC folks have used a cross-platform program to organize, store, and play their music on their computers. That application, iTunes, has grown from what was once a simple music player to an e-commerce hub, multimedia content platform, and an installation in modern culture when it comes to how consumers listen to music.
But music industry publication Digital Music News recently reported that Apple is planning to completely eliminate digital music downloads from the online iTunes store by early 2019. The technological powerhouse denies the claim, but the report states that “multiple sources tied into the platform or working at the company itself” have said it’s true.
Apple released its own music and content streaming service, Apple Music, back in 2015. According to the rumors, the company will shift its attention to users who stream their music rather than download it to their own devices.
DMN’s Paul Resnikoff elaborated on the plan to cut out downloads, claiming that Apple is looking to implement the program shortly after Christmas 2018.
“The company would migrate a user’s iTunes download collection towards a brand-new Apple Music account. Then, as part of a three-month transitionary trial account, a user’s entire collection would be migrated into streaming equivalents. All previous playlists and details would also be translated. Downloads unavailable as streams would be grayed out, pending future licensing. ‘But you can always go back and listen to the downloads, they always will work,’ another source noted. Over time, ‘more stuff becomes licensed’ and the grayed out collection becomes de minimis.”
Music downloads have dropped severely over the last few years. Nielsen reports that individual track downloads have dropped 24.1 percent in the United States over the past year, while digital album downloads have slipped 19.9 percent. A further decline of 30 percent or more is projected in 2018. Streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify are bringing in big-time numbers when it comes to music consumption, with Apple Music surpassing 30 million subscribers and Spotify topping 60 million.
Apple recently announced that it would purchase music recognition app Shazam. Preliminary reports show that Shazam will be sold to Apple for a price tag of over $400 million.