Okay, iTunes. Now What?

Apple’s iTunes Music Store has been around for a little more than a decade–11 years, to be exact–and it’s starting to show its age.  Yes, it still generates billions of dollars in revenue for Apple and iTunes is still responsible for up to 70% of the digital music sold on the planet.

But that light in the distance? That’s a train roaring down the track right towards Cupertino.  And written on the side of that train is “Streaming Music.”

If you follow my weekly reports on music sales, you’ll know that 2014 is turning out to be a brutal year.  Physical music sales are approaching terminal velocity on their way towards making a very big crater.  Meanwhile, digital sales, which had been on an upward trajectory for the past couple of years are now following a flight path that  can charitably be called parabolic.

Why? Because people don’t need to possess (i.e. buy) music anymore.  Streaming music services allow for all of us to access more music than we could ever hope to afford.  And the cost of that access is close to (if not at) free.

In other words, there’s less and less reason to buy music. Ergo, less need for online music stores.  Such as iTunes.

So what’s Apple to do?  And what’s the music industry to do, given that they’ve relied so much on Apple over the last decade to sell their stuff?

Finance Daily takes a look here, suggesting that the whole iTunes concept needs to be re-imagined–and fast. Meanwhile, the BBC has this look back at a decade of legal downloading.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ 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.

One thought on “Okay, iTunes. Now What?

  • April 22, 2014 at 10:29 am

    I don’t think it would be too difficult for Apple to shift the focus of iTunes towards some sort of integration with streaming services. While not the same streaming that the article alludes to, the internet radio stations accessible through iTunes are actually where I do most of my listening aside from my iTunes library.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.