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.”
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.
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.
&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.
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:
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:
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.
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?