Music Charts — May 13, 2016 at 1:29 pm

Start backing up your hard drives, Apple might kill iTunes music downloads by 2018


With music sales dwindling and streaming services being adopted at an increasing rate, Apple is reportedly considering killing off iTunes music downloads altogether.



As Digital Music News reports, sources with active business relationships with Apple have claimed that the issue is “not an if, but when” iTunes downloads should be terminated completely. The article suggests it could be as soon as two years from now. There is no word as to what would happen to your existing music files homed on iTunes if this occurs.


Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr rebuffed the comment, saying it was “not true,” but would not elaborate any further. Nonetheless, the report does raise the issue of what role purchased music downloads can, and will play in a landscape that is increasingly becoming dominated by streaming platforms.  


iTunes has traditionally generated strong sales but its intention has traditionally been more to lure consumers into Apple’s embrace and purchase iPhones and iPads and all the services tied to those devices. But now, with the company shifting its focus on its own streaming platform Apple Music, where does that leave iTunes? And how will Apple deal with the industry-wide shift from purchasing digital music to streaming their music.


At this point, it seems unlikely that Apple will kill off what’s a very profitable arm of the business so prematurely. Revenue from iTunes music purchases stayed steady at around $3.5 billion, two people familiar with finances told Bloomberg. Sales figures are expected to continue to drop in the coming years and this figure is expected to drop down to $600 million by 2019.


With that being said, Apple Music is far from a complete solution for many customers, especially those in the developing world where access to fast, reliable internet is not as commonplace as it is across much of the United States or Europe. Apple themselves have admitted that there are still steps to take in fine-tuning the service, working out ways to better present the product and demystify elements of it that may be turning away potential consumers. 


Apple would be foolish to kill its golden goose but the consistent push towards streaming means that this may not be the case for long. The rapid pace of change in the music industry over the past few decades is testament to how quickly the operating environment can shift and a few years down the road, the landscape is sure to look different again. Music streaming services are certainly likely to play a much bigger and more profitable role than they do now.