Here We Go Again: Is 2018 the Year We Stop Downloading Music?

Spoiler: No.

While millions have already embraced streaming and millions more will hop on the bandwagon before the end of the year, there are still plenty of us that want to possess music. Why?

There are situations that where having possession of the actual music files is more convenient. Ask anyone who’s ever DJed. Or burned a CD. Or wanted to listen to music offline under ALL circumstances. Or those of us who just like to collect music. Or–and I’ll admit this is nichey–people who work with music and need the physical file to do our jobs.

Yet we keep running across articles like this from TechRadar who insist that the end of the download is coming this year.

When was the last time you downloaded an MP3? If you’re one of the legions of subscribers to streaming platforms like SpotifyTidal and Apple Music, rumors about the death of the download probably won’t bother you one bit.

Digital Music News reports that Apple, the company that was key in legitimizing downloaded music with its iTunes service, is set to kill it off.

Sources within Apple suggest that the timeline for phasing out downloads is being brought forward, and that they could cease within a year (the original plan, apparently, was two years).

With streaming services like Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, Rhapsody, YouTube and Tidal all the rage, are we now in the death throes of the download?

How significant is the downloaded music market?

Compared to streaming, the downloads market is small. The Nielsen Music U.S. Mid-Year Report of July 2017 revealed that on-demand audio streams reached over 184 billion streams in the US in the first half of 2017, a 62.4% increase over the same time period in 2016.

“The first half of 2017 has seen some incredible new benchmarks for the music industry,” said David Bakula, SVP of Music Industry Insights at Nielsen. “The rapid adoption of streaming platforms by consumers has generated engagement with music on a scale that we’ve never seen before.”

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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