It must have been a slow news day. There’s a lot of clickbaity headlines out there this week (like this one and this one) saying that Apple is going to shut down music downloads on iTunes. This has people a little freaked out.
Relax. This isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
Deep in an interview with the BBC, producer and Apple guy Jimmy Iovine spoke of how the streaming music services are all too similar. When asked about the decline in sales of digital music, Iovine said the following:
Apple has previously denied rumours it would “phase out” the iTunes download store next year, but Iovine told the BBC such a move was inevitable.
There is no concrete timescale, but he said: “If I’m honest, it’s when people stop buying.
“It’s very simple.”
That’s it. That’s the source of all those other headlines. There’s no grand plan, no deadline, nothing in motion. Apple is just watching the evolution of the music business and consumer behavior like everyone else.
While Apple still sells a gazillion digital downloads a year, it’s true the numbers are declining year after year while streaming continues to attract new users. Apple is approaching 40 million subscribers on Apple music, far behind Spotify’s projected 100 million by the end of the year. Apple’s advantage over Spotify is that it’s the go-to place in the known universe for purchasing digital tracks. There’s no way it’s going to give up that high ground until, well, the ground isn’t high anymore.
Iovine was simply talking about a time in the future when everyone streams instead of buys. But that won’t be this year, next year or even in five years.