iTunes Beta (Music)

If you need another proof that Apple made the right move dropping more than three billion bucks on Beats’s audio accessories and music-streaming service, here’s one.

According to people familiar with the matter who spoke to the Wall Street Journal on Friday, the decline of digital music sales on iTunes is accelerating with latest data showing between a thirteen and fourteen percent dip globally since the start of this year.

By comparison, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry estimated that global revenue from music downloads fell just 2.1 percent in 2013. Clearly this development doesn’t bode well for iTunes, but can Apple do anything about it? Read on for the full reveal.

The digital music revolution that started more than a decade ago with the introduction of the iPod music player, which turned 13 yesterday, and the iTunes Music Store, hasn’t slowed down. What’s changing are consumers’  music listening habits.

For example, the aforementioned 2.1 percent dip in 2013 was successfully offset by the revenue increases stemming from ad-supported and subscription-based streaming services from the likes of Rdio, Spotify and many other.

Check out the very first iPod commercial, unveiled by Steve Jobs during Apple’s 2001 media event that saw the landmark introduction of the standalone music player.

Worldwide revenue from recorded music totaled $15 billion in 2013. In the United States alone, the world’s largest market for music, recorded music sales are now nearly fifty percent below their peak in 2000. Sales of music downloads in the U.S. fell an RIAA-estimated twelve percent in the first half of 2014. During the same period, revenue from paid subscription services surged a cool 23 percent.


Nielsen SoundScan data shows that fewer consumers are buying albums, contributing to the eleven percent decline in sales of the format. Nielsen SoundScan also recorded a thirteen percent dip in U.S. digital track sales this year.

The iPhone maker has for a long time resisted launching an iTunes-branded streaming service that would allow customers to listen to any song from Apple’s catalog of tens of millions of tracks, in any order and without limitations, for a couple of bucks per month.

Apple and labels’ hesitance has created new opportunities for services such as Spotify, which makes low-cost music a reality in exchange for a monthly subscription fee of just $9.99 per month, or less than the price of a brand new album release on iTunes.

But Apple is not standing still.

Beats Music (Windows Phone, Android, iOS 001)

“Apple is rebuilding Beats Music and plans to relaunch it next year as part of iTunes, according to a person familiar with the matter,” added the report.

Beats Music, a free download for the iPhone and iPad, currently requires users to pay a subscription fee of ten bucks per month for unlimited streaming of tens of millions of songs from its catalog.

But if Re/code’s Peter Kafka is correct, Apple may be able to negotiate a discount with the labels that would see users paying half the price in the near future.

A rebranded Beats Music service could be unveiled in February 2015.

Which streaming service do you use and how do you get your music these days?

[The Wall Street Journal]


  • iNeedANameHere

    I have 1,000+ songs and counting purchased through iTunes. I’ve always purchased all my music and always through iTunes. Simple to purchase especially with Touch ID and buying music is cheaper than paying the data rates for streaming because of how much music I listen to. I know I can download songs to my device with Spotify etc. but if I have to take up that storage I’d much rather just buy them and directly support my artist.

  • Due to the rise in free download locations and streaming services I don’t see why it hasn’t dipped sooner.

    • Well I still buy music since with streaming music services you do not own any of the music which means you can only use the music for whatever the streaming music service tells you to. Most streaming music services are only accessible online too and even though some services have offline modes these modes often involve downloading music in a format riddled with DRM so they can only be played within the streaming music service. With streaming music services there is no ownership because you rent all of your music. If Apple could somehow combine iTunes with a streaming music service (a real service available worldwide not iTunes Radio) they’ll likely be on to a winner. The real reasons music sales are down though is probably down to the record labels fault. They still partake in geo-blocking even though there are no borders on the Internet. I’m willing to bet this is the real reason for a drop in music sales so many people have probably downloaded music from file sharing sites that would have been happy to pay for them had the music been available in the first place…

  • Manuel Molina

    Personally, I feel that music has been on the decline in the last 10 years. Quality has been what has made people avoid buying cd’s and just searching for one-hit songs. Most people just hear a few songs and that’s it. There use to be the time when the cd from top to bottom was great, so you brought that shit. All your friends had that cd and you wants the actual cd. These days it’s different.

    • Andy

      That’s certainly one area that these kind of articles fail to mention. Turn on the TV or radio these days, and you hear several songs that sound similar – hardly any one of them sound special or distinct enough. And it’s not because I’m getting old either, some artists still produce quality albums where all the songs are great, but these are very rare these days. Sadly we live in an era where disposable ‘catchy’ singles take higher priority and the rest of the tracks on an album are simply filler material that are usually skipped over anyway.

      I’m a guy that likes buying CD’s and I’d take a well produced album over a Greatest Hits compilation any day. In 50 years time, I highly doubt people will look back positively at the likes of Nicki Minaj and Justin Bieber compared to The Beatles or Queen.

      • Manuel Molina

        I’m 26, and at 23 is when I started noticing a decline in quality music. I listen to everything from Classic and country, to rap and rock. Every category has gone down, but mostly rap and pop. Shit sounds the same, instrumentals holds importance over words and lyrics. There are no ground-breakers like a Beatles, Biggie, Boys II Men, or Rolling Stones.

        I don’t mind a digital or think it’s wrong, but I don’t buy cd’s because its hard to find something thats actually good.

  • Lance Baker

    Proud to say that I don’t use any streaming music services. I also don’t buy singles. I prefer to listen to whole albums. There’s only one single in my entire iTunes library and that’s the incredibly hilarious Shia LaBeouf song. Seriously, look up the video on YouTube if you haven’t seen it.

  • redjazon

    Music piracy is prevalent.

    • iNeedANameHere

      Piracy is the reason we have to pay $1.29 per song.

      • I’m afraid you’ve got it the wrong way round. Music and generally any media costing this much is the reason file sharing is prevalent. I don’t mind paying more for media but if I do I at least want it to be in an uncompressed format (for music) or a high resolution format for videos…

  • jp2002

    Spotify is the reason!

    • Juschan

      spotify at least gives the artist anything

  • Claudio Cilia

    I have stopped using iTunes deleted my torrented music lol.. and nowadays I use Spotify all the time on my Mac, iPhone and iPad… I wish I had an Apple alternative but for now, I guess there is not #spotifyallday