Ending music downloads on the iTunes Store would be an incredibly dumb move

I don’t think this is true, but if it is it’s one of the dumbest moves Apple could make: Apple is preparing to end music download offerings on the iTunes Store, perhaps within two years.

This is from Digital Music News, quoting unnamed sources “with close and active business relationships with Apple.” The article says that discussions are now focused “not on if, but when” music downloads should be retired for good.

The reasoning: streaming music is on the rise (Apple Music reportedly has 13 million subscribers with that number growing), while song downloads are on the decline (an estimated -25% or -30% this year). Also, according to Digital Music, folks are confused and don’t understand the difference between Apple Music, iTunes, iTunes Match, iTunes Cloud, etc.

Chart courtesy of Digital Music

Chart courtesy of Digital Music

“By 2020 [Apple’s] download business would be tracking to be 10 times smaller than streaming revenue but, crucially, streaming revenue would nearly have reached the 2012 iTunes Store download revenue peak,” Mark Mulligan at Canadian Music Week told Digital Music.  “This is the point at which Apple would choose to turn off the iTunes Store.”

Wait just a minute. iTunes music downloads will still be worth an estimated $600 million in 2019. Sure that’s down from $3.9 billion in 2012, but it’s still $600 MILLION bucks.

I want to buy songs and albums. Maybe I’m a dinosaur, but I suspect there are lots of folks like me — and always will be. 

So note to Apple: if you’re planning on stopping iTunes music sales ANYTIME, please me know now, so I can go ahead and start spending my money elsewhere. (And, I assume that if you launched a video streaming service, you’d eventually stop selling movies and TV shows on iTunes.)

I think — I HOPE — that Digital Age is wrong. My suggestion: fix the bloatware that is iTunes and keep both the streaming service and the ability to sell music and movies.