iTunes 11 (Albums)

Rumor has it that Apple is considering taking drastic measures to reverse declining music sales. Billboard says the company is looking into several options, including giving its iTunes store a ‘drastic’ overhaul, opening up iTunes to Android users, and launching an on-demand streaming music service.

Apple may also be planning to add high-resolution audio to its digital library soon as part of its turnaround efforts, according to music blogger Robert Hutton. Citing sources familiar with the company’s plans, Hutton says the iPhone-maker could launch new hi-res music downloads as early as WWDC

Here’s more from Hutton’s blog post (via MacRumors):

For several years, Apple have been insisting that labels provide files for iTunes in 24 bit format – preferably 96k or 192k sampling rate. So they have undeniably the biggest catalog of hi-res audio in the world. 

And the Led Zeppelin remasters in high resolution will be the kick off event – to coincide with Led Zep in hi-res, Apple will flip the switch and launch their hi-res store via iTunes – and apparently, it will be priced a buck above the typical current file prices. 

That’s right – Apple will launch hi-res iTunes in two months.

Hutton doesn’t name his source, and we aren’t very familiar with his track record, but we do know that Apple has long been interested in adding higher quality music to iTunes. In fact, it’s been reported that Steve Jobs was working on hardware to store and play back “high-quality audio” before he passed away.

Consumers seem to be interested in higher-res digital music as well—just take a look at the Pono Music Kickstarter, led by musician Neil Young. With 4 days left in the project, over 17,000 backers have pledged nearly $6 million to bring the 24-bit music player to life. It’s expected to begin shipping in October.

So there’s obviously a market for 24-bit music, and Apple’s obviously interested. But the big question is, are they interested enough to make a move?