A good source for music news in the online realm is Digital Music News. For chart junkies like us, it’s interesting to read about what streaming services are doing (or how little they’re paying songwriters). Yesterday, they wrote an article claiming that Apple would be completely ending music downloads within two years. The article cites several sources claiming that it’s an issue of not if, but when one of the biggest online music retailers will end paid downloads in favor of streaming.
Two years seems like an extremely aggressive timeline for Apple, given how popular downloads still are. In fact, Apple even reached out to the publication, issuing a denial claiming that it’s not true. And while iTunes music downloads have been declining yearly from a peak of $3.9 billion in 2012 to an expected $600 million in 2019, they’re still selling a lot of them. Many people want to own their own music, even if it is only digitally.
It’s streaming music, however, that might have something to do with Apple speeding up the end of music downloads. Apple Music has gotten 13 million subscribers in less than a year, and is on track to reach 20 million by the end of the year. That’s 20 million people paying $9.99 a month, whereas many on iTunes probably occasionally buy a single or an album a year or so. But then again, how many stories have you read about the death of the CD? The CD is nowhere near as popular as it used to be, but you can still buy them everywhere. Apple isn’t likely to give up on a guaranteed revenue stream for a while yet, especially if it lets other competitors beat them.