Last year, Digital Music News reported that Apple was considering shutting down the iTunes music store within the next couple of years. Eighteen months later, the iTunes store remains open and Digital Music News is once again reporting its demise, this time slated for 2019. The story cited multiple unnamed sources within Apple that claim there is a plan to shutdown the store following the 2018 holiday season.
Both stories follow the reasonable argument that digital sales are plummeting, citing Nielsen in the latest post:
The move may be driven by data. According to details shared by Nielsen, paid downloads are crashing in 2017. During the first six months of the year, track downloads collapsed 24.1% in the US, while digital albums slipped 19.9%. Both formats are likely to drop 30% or more in 2018, eventually winnowing away to something negligible.
It’s worth noting that Apple is very obviously attempting to compete with Spotify, and though they only have half of the paid user base (60 million vs. 30 million,) the free tier of Spotify puts the Swedish company with over 140 million users, dwarfing Apple by a 5:1 margin.
If Apple wants to really rival Spotify, there is still a healthy amount of money to be made in digital sales. The first of half of 2017 saw digital sales down 24% but still bringing in $757 million, certainly nothing to scoff at as users continue to migrate towards streaming.
The story also mentioned that there may be an attempt to move all current iTunes users to Apple Music, migrating their collections and providing a free trial of the service. As someone with a large amount of music that can’t be found on any streaming service this feels less than ideal, as much of the music I love certainly won’t be survive such a transition.
We reached out to Apple for comment on this story and will update with any statement they may provide.