Apple to kill iTunes music download sales in 2-3 years, sources insist

“Last month, sources to Digital Music News pointed to internal Apple discussions and a proposal to eliminate music downloads from iTunes, in as quickly as 2-3 years,” Paul Resnikoff reports for Digital Music News. “That was flatly denied by Apple’s media representatives, though sources with close knowledge of the company’s plans continue to share credible details that music downloads may be phased out in just a few years.”

“A great deal depends on how sharply music downloads decline, how quickly streaming accelerates, and how an unstable internal political atmosphere within the company shakes out, the same sources have shared,” Resnikoff reports. “Importantly, paid music downloads appear to be entering a free fall this year, according to preliminary stats revealed to DMN.”

“One source indicated that Apple may be architecting iTunes differently, with the ability to more easily drop iTunes music downloads in future years if the format becomes seriously marginalized. That would allow the company to simplify the application towards streaming and radio in the event that music downloads experience a ‘CD-like collapse’ in the coming years, or if downloads are viewed as heavily dragging Apple Music’s progress against competitors like Spotify,” Resnikoff reports. “Enter Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, which kicks off June 13th in San Francisco. That event is a smorgasbord of announcements and product rollouts, and is expected to include the unveiling of a major iTunes overhaul. Addressing widespread complaints of ‘bloatware’ and a nightmarishly complicated interface, Apple is hoping to vastly simplify a sprawling iTunes, including an iTunes Store stuffed with apps, movies, TV shows, music downloads, podcasts, and now, streaming service Apple Music.”

Tons more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Well, anecdotally, we haven’t purchased any music since we became Apple Music Members on June 30, 2015, of course. Plus, for example, we’ve been listening to Garbage’s Strange Little Birds for days now via Apple Music, pre-release, while you can only buy two of the songs prior to its expected June 10th release via iTunes Store.

Apple: No, we’re not going to stop selling music downloads anytime soon – May 12, 2016
Apple prepping to kill iTunes Store music downloads within two years – May 11, 2016
Apple’s iTunes Store suffers as streaming sales surpass digital downloads for first time – March 23, 2016
Apple Music adds another million subscribers in 1 month, surpasses 11 million paying members – February 12, 2016
Apple Music subscribers could hit 100 million users in 6 years – January 11, 2016
Apple Music nabs 10 million subscribers in 6 months, which took Spotify 6 years – January 10, 2016
Uh-oh, Spotify: People are paying up for Apple Music – November 5, 2015
Why Apple Music will win in streaming music – October 27, 2015
Apple Music takes a huge bite out of Pandora – October 23, 2015
Taylor Swift calls Spotify a ‘start-up with no cash flow’ – August 4, 2015
Oh ok, Spotify listeners are upgrading to Apple Music – July 19, 2015
Apple Music could kill more than just Spotify, it could kill music labels, too – June 25, 2015
Why Apple Music will gut and publicly execute Spotify – June 10, 2015
Spotify CEO claims to be ‘ok’ with Apple Music – June 9, 2015
Jimmy Iovine and Eddy Cue: Apple Music gunning for Spotify, YouTube, and terrestrial radio – June 9, 2015
Apple Music’s huge advantage over Spotify – June 9, 2015
Apple’s revolutionary Apple Music just might prove its skeptics wrong – June 8, 2015
Apple unveils revolutionary Apple Music service – June 8, 2015


  1. I find apple Music terrible. Ever since they merged streaming into iTunes it tries to play music for me based on what it thinks I want to hear instead of my chosen playlists. I have stopped buying music because the app is so bad. Not because of streaming.

    1. I’m not sure what you do to iTunes when it plays stuff it wants instead of what you tell it to play. In fact, in my experience, iTunes will always play exactly what I instructed it to play; if I play my own playlists, it will play those and nothing else.

      As MDN suggests, Apple Music has made me stop buying music (since all of it is already there).

      I add albums and selections to my playlist as I want them and that’s what is played when I want it. I simply don’t bother with Apple Music’s suggestions or the ‘For You’ section. Essentially, I use it exactly the same way I used it before when I had all the music ripped (or downloaded from iTunes Store) and located on my hard drive. Now, it is in the cloud and is getting streamed, but the music management is largely the same.

      1. Haha, exactly. For the life of me, I can’t understand why people struggle so much with Apple Music. If I want to play my playlists, I play my playlists. If I want to stream a new album, I stream a new album. If I want to listen to a curated playlist under the “For You” section, I simply do that. iTunes does not somehow hijack my preferences.

  2. This would be a real kick in the d*ck for people like me, who prefer to purchase legally, and own my music. I’m not sure if Apple realizes it, but reliable WIFI is NOT everywhere.

    1. With Apple Music, you can download songs, albums, or playlists to your device so that you can listen to them when you’re not connected to the Internet.

    2. There was a similar story to this one about a month or so back and Apple was quick to call it garbage. I won’t get jazzed up about it unless it every actually happens. To stop selling music is plainly stupid and would hurt more than it could ever help. I’ll take these stories with a grain of salt from now on.

      1. Not to mention that removing music purchasing wouldn’t really do much to address iTunes bloat.

        Not that bloat has been a problem for me as I only use iTunes to buy music, play it, and to back up my iPad. It’s just unnecessary UI changes that have altered, hidden, or removed most often used functions that aggravate me.

  3. Yup. That’ll be the end of Apple Music for me. I still insist on buying because I buy so little, maybe an album or eight songs a year. There is so way a monthly subscription, even for all the music in the world makes sense for me. So as long as free stuff – YouTube and Spotify, or what I get with Amazon Prime, exists than that’s what I’ll stream, and go back to vinyl and CD for the stuff i want to keep. Probably won’t even bother ripping, since the CD drive on my Mac started rejecting all my disks.

  4. I went back to buying CD’s as when they’re not newly released they’re typically cheaper than the digital versions from Apple and Amazon. I’ve also started buying vinyl and with a lot of them you get digital versions anyway.

    Does selling downloads cost Apple anything? Surely they’re only stop if they new for a fact they’d make up the money through subscriptions.

    I don’t buy a lot of music now as I’ve kind of built my collection already (10k tracks). I don’t have enough hours in the day to listen to what I own let alone constantly search for new stuff. Subscribing to music is just another expense. Once you add in all the video services and other content streams digital media is getting expensive.

  5. Prefer to own my music than pay monthly fees and worry about data usage. My preference is to buy and rip CD’s or purchase digital copies off of iTunes.

    I use wired headphones to listen to music and use the cell phone almost exclusively in speaker phone mode. (The exception is a rare call in public, which I hold the phone to my ear. ) Have zero interest in Bluetooth headsets. I’m okay with ditching the standard audio port provided an adapter is available. Willing to spend up to 30 dollars on said adapter. Like others, prefer a thick iPhone with better battery life than a super thin phone that could potentially give paper cuts. 😄 Just responding to give MDN one user’s perspective regarding my approach to music. To each their own though. Cheers!

  6. On the contrary, Apple iTunes needs to expand and offer up Apple Lossless and also 24 bit versions of music for sale. This kind of dumbing down would be insane. One music acquisition size does not fit all. All options should ALWAYS be available. the customer drives the choice, not mealy-mouthed & misguided corporate doofuses. That said I usually buy the CD and rip to Apple Lossless. Sounds great.

    1. In all fairness, lossless would be prohibitively expensive for Apple to support, only to satisfy the interests of 1% of the potential user base. 24-bit even worse.

      If there is a business model that can support high-quality audio, Apple would have been offering for a long time now. Remember, they went with 256kbps when 128kbps was the standard, so they know the value of audio quality. It is simply not worth the effort.

      1. Prohibitively expensive? For a company with more billions than they know what to do with? It’s chump change. Then hand it over to those with far less in resources but who care like HDTracks & others. Master recordings, many in 24-bit, exist already in digital of most everything now so it’s simply a matter of cataloguing and setting up a database library, most of which already exists as well. It’s not like they are starting from the ground up. It’s very doable. The business model is very doable and would be used if offered by many. And it is most definitely worth the effort. Maybe you like “good enough” audio but many don’t so why would you want to deprive audiophiles? And if you use music in video projects it’s also nice to have full bit rate music to download.

        1. I am certainly no fan of lossy compression. Having spend good part of my life in a recording studio, producing music, performing music and making a living from it, I know quite well what are its shortcomings.

          The problem is that realistically, this is rather moot. The percentage of general iTunes Music-buying public that would be interested in paying for 24-bit (or even just 16-bit) lossless music is really minuscule. For Apple to maintain such tracks in the store would require charging far more than for ordinary tracks that everyone buys. Nobody would buy them at that much higher prices, and it simply wouldn’t be justifiable. Apple is not a charity and has no obligation to any of their customer groups. As much as the music and creative industry had sustained Apple through its darkest years, their only responsibility and obligation is to the shareholders.

          I don’t think we’ll ever see lossless, never mind 24-bit (or 96kHz, for that matter).

          1. I’m not interested in what’s acceptable to most clueless tone-deaf consumers. Apple should cater to all tastes if it’s going to be in this music download market. How does allocating storage space mean they’d have to charge more for lesser formats? That’s a stretch and only one you’re guessing at. Storage needs are pretty minuscule compared to video (both 4K & HD video and audio loom large with me). BTW you don’t have to be the hall monitor on what Apple should or shouldn’t do. I appreciate your points but why would you deny those who feel differently? Premium high bit rate tracks at premium prices and same old for the garden variety bit rates. Simple. I agree that are not likely to do the right thing here. But others will and do.

  7. They should never stop selling music. I don’t listen to enough music to pay the $10/month. I buy all my music, but buy far less than $10/month of music. This would just force people to return to piracy.

  8. Anybody consider a couple of facts:
    Most of us already have a considerable library of music.
    Many willing to buy want something like Apple Lossless without DRM – not a lossy format like AAC.
    Most of what is being released these days sucks like a Dyson.

    I listen to a very broad variety of musical styles but have no use for Bubblegum Pop or Rap.

    Someday, someone in Hip-Hop will discover live percussion instead of drum machines and canned loops.

    Better quality recordings and better music would go a long way toward improving sales.

    1. The overuse of the abused audio editor feature “normalization” has ruined modern music. Truncating transients, nearly eliminating dynamic range and in the process making everything sound distorted is all in the fool’s misguided quest of making it sound “louder.” Add in such dubious self-described “creative geniuses” C-RAP music in the mix and it completes the effect of aurally circling a flushing toilet, along with pop culture.

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