Apple is now “aggressively scheduling” a complete phaseout of music downloads via iTunes, according to a Digital Music News report which cites multiple sources (including at least one Apple employee) with knowledge of the company’s digital music platform.
The end of iTunes music downloads was imminent, as noted in multiple reports spanning as far back as May of last year.
At the time, it was reported that Apple would phaseout music downloads within a three to four timeframe. Today’s report, however, which cites continuously “plummeting download sales,” notes that said drop may have expedited the company’s plans.
“More and more, [downloads] are legacy,” one source told Digital Music News. “That part is obvious.”
Another source has not only “repeatedly insisted” the imminence of Apple’s plan to axe iTunes music downloads, but that said plan is at least on — if not slightly ahead — of schedule by now. For obvious privacy reasons, all sources cited in today’s report demanded complete confidentiality from Digital Music News throughout their interview.
When Will iTunes Music Downloads End?
Today’s report cites that a complete termination of iTunes music downloads should be instated by early 2019 — shortly after the 2018 holiday season. Given that people are still downloading songs and albums on iTunes, Apple’s move is strategic in the sense that it would allow the platform another year to operate, at least, while also giving the company time to implement its “clever transition” towards Apple Music.
The Future of Digital Music
According to one source with close knowledge of said transition, Apple plans to implement a program that will allow users to try Apple Music for an exclusive, three-month period, after which point they’ll be given the option to migrate and apply their iTunes music collection to their account.
“As part of a three-month transitionary trial account, a user’s entire collection would be migrated into streaming equivalents,” the source noted, adding that “All previous playlists and details would also be translated.”
Another source added that “downloads unavailable as streams would be grayed out” in Apple Music search results; however, another added, users will always be able to “go back and listen to the downloads, they always will work,” which is good news for those hoping to retain a copy of their music library despite Apple’s “clever transition” tactics.
According to the latest Nielsen data, paid music downloads took a major plunge in 2017, with individual track and digital album downloads dropping by 24.1 and 19.9 percent, respectively, during just the first six-months of the year.
Meanwhile, Apple Music has amassed a paid monthly subscriber base of approximately 30 million since the service went live in June, 2015. While certainly not on par with other streaming services like Spotify, whose subscriber base is hovering around 60 million, it’s still an impressive figure given the timeframe Apple Music has been available.
Today’s report, of course, makes it ostensibly apparent that Apple wants to continue growing Apple Music — not by punishing those who’ve spent so much building out their iTunes library over the years, but by giving them a sensible option by which to embrace “the future” of digital music and video.
Do you plan to migrate your iTunes music collection to an Apple Music account?
Let us know in the comments!