The free song of the week promotion Apple offered through the iTunes Store for years went from a big badge to a small text link, and now is gone completely. Searching for free songs doesn't turn up anything, either, and comments in Apple's own forums claim Free on iTunes—at least for music—has officially come to an end.
Free on iTunes doesn't offer free songs anymore
Apple used Free on iTunes to promote different songs and artists each week, and for many people it served as a gateway to music purchases. The lack of free songs now apparently isn't a one-off thing, and instead was an intentional move on Apple's part. One Apple forum commenter said,
I contacted iTunes Support and they told me the decision was made to drop the free Single of the Week. Seems they don't want people browsing the Store anymore. I told them that the free single each week got me to the Store and I usually bought a few songs. Now, there's less reason to go.
Other forum posters echoed that sentiment saying they wouldn't be visiting the iTunes Store any more, either. While that sounds bad for music sales, it ultimately may not have any real impact at all.
Apple now has iTunes Radio and its First Play feature that lets you listen to new album releases before buying. Those albums are also available for purchase on the iTunes Store, and iTunes Radio includes buttons that make purchases essentially a one-click process.
Free on iTunes isn't completely gone, either. You can still find free videos and books, plus it features podcasts and apps as well. Still, it's sad to see free songs disappear. That's something we've been checking out every Tuesday for years.
The Mac Observer has reached out to Apple asking about the change, but haven't yet received a response.