Why are iTunes Store music links now redirecting to Apple Music?

By , Aug 7, 2015

Apple Music teaser 001

It appears that Apple has changed the way iTunes Store music links work. Instead of opening the corresponding artist, song or album pages in the iTunes Store application on the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad (or the iTunes Store section within desktop iTunes), these links now redirect to the Apple Music section in the stock Music app or within desktop iTunes, as first reported by Kirk McElhearn.

iTunes Store > Apple Music

Writing on his blog, McElhearn explains that the change is bad for record labels and artists who sell music on the iTunes Store because no longer does clicking published music links on blogs take customers to the iTunes Store to purchase music.

“The same thing occurs if you copy a link from the iTunes Store and use that link, or share it with someone; that link sends people not to the store, but to Apple Music,” writes McElhearn. “And, if the album in question isn’t available for streaming, then this link just goes to the New page in Apple Music.”

Testing, testing…

I was able to test this myself.

After running a Google search for “Taylor Swift Holiday Collection iTunes,” an iTunes Store URL appeared as the very top item in search results. Upon clicking the link in both Safari and Chrome on my Mac an iTunes Preview webpage opened like before, offering detailed description of the item.

iTunes Store links to Apple Music screenshot 002

Clicking the blue View in iTunes button shown on the screenshot above should take me to the iTunes Store, right?

Alas, it instead takes me to Apple Music in iTunes on my Mac offering an option to stream the album instantly rather than purchase it. This is true for Safari and Chrome on OS X Yosemite and El Capitan’s beta, my iPad Air running iOS 9 beta and my iPhone 6 Plus running the public version of iOS 8.4.

iTunes Link Maker

Apple has long had a web tool called iTunes Link Maker for creating embed codes, URLs and buttons for iTunes Store items which can then be published online, embedded into blogs and webpages, shared on social media and so forth.

Unsurprisingly, iTunes Link Maker now supports the creation of Listen on Music buttons and embed codes that link to Apple Music. In fact, searching for a music item on iTunes Link Maker now by default produces a link which opens in Apple Music, as evidenced by the screenshot below.

iTunes Store links to Apple Music screenshot 005

Notice the &app=music at the end of the URL depicted on the image? That part tells your device to open the item in Apple Music on iTunes or within Music app on iOS devices.

Thankfully, you can override this and have the URLs redirect to the iTunes Store like before, but the process now involves a few additional steps: first, you must click the barely visible right arrow within the list of badges and links and then click on the iTunes Text Link option, which changes the URL to the old format.

iTunes Store links to Apple Music screenshot 004

Solution

Is there a way to change how this works for existing URLs, you ask?

Apparently there is though some manual work is involved in the process. Basically, you must manually change the URL for each iTunes Store link that redirects to Apple Music by adding &app=itunes at its end.

In the case of Taylor Swift’s “Holiday Collection”, the direct link created in iTunes Link Maker is:

https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/album/taylor-swift-holiday-collection/id296552366?mt=1&app=music

If I want it to open in the iTunes Store like before, I’d replace &app=music at the end of the URL with &app=itunes, like this:

https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/album/taylor-swift-holiday-collection/id296552366?mt=1&app=itunes

Now if I click that link it opens a search results page for “taylor swift” within the iTunes Store section in iTunes, which is better than redirecting me to Apple Music.

iTunes Store links to Apple Music screenshot 003

Wrapup

By redirecting iTunes Store music links to Apple Music, the Cupertino firm is obviously pushing people to sign up for the free three-month trial at the expense of music sellers.

Whether or not that’s good or bad for record labels and artists remains to be seen. For the time being, existing iTunes Store links will continue to redirect to Apple Music.

As for new ones created via iTunes Link Maker, users are now required to scroll through options in order to specifically create embed codes that link directly to the iTunes Store rather than redirect to Apple Music.

What’s your opinion? Does redirecting people to stream music on Apple Music as opposed to nudging them to buy it on the iTunes Store make sense?

Source: Kirk McElhearn via The Loop

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  • What about people who don’t use Apple Music?

    • indiekiduk

      Just tested it and on the Mac it takes you to the New page which currently has a pic of Dr Dre at the top. Then clicking play on anything thats on that screen has the “Ready to Play When You Are” alert about joining Apple Music. The album that was the original web search is no where to be found on this page too so clearly this wasn’t meant to be active in this state so hopefully they fix it soon. And fix the iTunes UI for Apple Music soon before everyone stops using it for good at the end of next month.

  • :D

    Maybe Apple will give us the option to buy songs from the Apple Music page too, so we’d have both the option to stream and to buy with the same link.

    • Danny Rios

      Or maybe they will get rid of iTunes Store and just put Apple Music there.. It makes more sense. I mean iTunes Store and Apple Music are pretty much the same lol. Get rid of iTunes on the phone! Hint, maybe they are going for this since the macbook/pc logo for iTunes is the Apple Music logo.. maybe they are going to get rid of iTunes altogether.

      • Jim Witte

        Except that:
        1) “Jobs’ argument”: With Apple Music, you don’t actually own your music (*).
        2) Streaming music (might) suck up great amounts of bandwidth, depending on how big the “local cache” for “often-played music” is.
        3) (Maybe) degrade the working of the Internet as a whole, as a result of point 2.

        “Maybe” because:
        a) Level 3 and other backbone companies will eventually lay new fiber down.
        b) “Bufferbloat” might make for bigger headaches as far as the workings of the internet. Of course, increased streaming itself might *add* to the Bufferbloat problem as I understand (too-big jumbo packets, leading to the making of too-big buffers.)

        (*) Has any subscription service come up with a “best of both worlds” business model? Well, sort of – consumers of course would want a service where they can pay $10 for *one* month, can download and own, as much music as they want – but that’s not going to happen.

        But have something like the following model: you pay $10 a month for unlimited streaming. Then you can “buy” (ie own) a certain number of songs each period for free each period, plus can buy other songs for some discounted amount from what they usually cost in the iTunes Store.

  • Namaste

    I propose that everyone that reads this article forward a letter similar to this one that I just sent to apple support….

    I am a musician and uploaded my music to iTunes for the first time today and notice that all the promotion links and viewing links for my music do not go to a page in iTunes store where people can directly buy my product but rather redirect to advertise your new streaming music services. That means you are stealing my energies in promoting my music to promote your new steaming service.

    Honestly how greedy do you have to be to steal directly off musicians who are directly promoting their music in order for you to fatten the pocket books of your fat cat share holders. Honestly I have waited years to upload my music to iTunes and the day I do I feel raped by your company.

    That is not honest. You provide links that say view in iTunes and rather than show people the product they expect to view you show them your streaming service with the product as bait.

    Honestly f*ck you and die…

    Please forward this to the head of Apple and iTunes to directly address this abuse of musicians, artists, clients, your reputation and consumers through misdirection and marketing theft.

  • Dante Arellano

    Im a royal consumer of apple but this shitte if music radio sunds stupid only if u like hip hop or teenager music the shitte its fou ya

  • 5723alex .

    We don’t have Apple Music in my country, so there is no way to purchase music anymore.

  • Lara Croft

    It’s EXTREMELY ANNOYING!! But it’s not the only thing since Timmy Cookie took over. There are many, many, many stupid and annoying things with Mac and iOS.

  • Makes perfect sense from the perspective of the listener. I am guessing artists get a royalty each time one of their tunes is played back. AFAIK, neither Apple nor the music industry/labels have revealed the royalty mechanics so I guess we’ll never know but as an Apple Music subscriber I much prefer the new approach.

  • Tyler Imbrogno

    As an artist I feel like this is TERRIBLE! We encourage listeners to buy, own and love our music….physically or digitally. While we make 70 cents on the dollar for every iTunes sale, we make something like 1 cent per thousand plays (not exactly sure, but Spotify and Apple music are something very small like this) While we encourage people streaming to test out and discover new music, we the artists should be able to directly promote purchasing it and supporting the band (especially for up and coming acts who NEED money from music sales to even stay afloat). From an artist’s perspective this feels like another way big corporations like Apple will do anything to take advantage of Artists…..just my two cents

  • Jim Witte

    I’ve noticed this. It ticks me off to no end, because it means I can no longer use the preview in iTunes store to hear a song I just happen to run across. (Or from Shazam – if it works. It doesn’t have a direct “itms:” link anyway for some strange reason, just a link to the web-version of iTunes store, from which you can *then* click on an “itms:” link)

    Unlike the rest of the world (or “the rest of the world” as Apple would like), I don’t *want* to sign up for Apple Music – at least not yet. I’m not sure I like the idea of “renting” music (like Steve Jobs), and I’ve read horror-stories about how if you turn on Apple Music it screws around with your music tags (with no “revert” option – *nice* one Apple..)

  • Kaz Firestone

    Thank you for this.