Apple’s decision to continue selling iTunes downloads alongside its Apple Music streaming service is proving to be a powerful combination. Three albums debuted in the number one spot this year as exclusive offerings from Apple. No other competing service can claim to have pushed an album to number one.
Forbes reported that Future’s EVOL, Drake’s Views, and DJ Khaled’s Major Key all debuted at number one. And they did so despite being exclusive to Apple’s two music services.
This demonstrates that downloads remain a factor in the music world. Though Apple has accumulated some 15 million Apple Music subscribers, not even larger Spotify has ever been responsible for a number one debut with streaming only.
The record industry uses a formula that converts X number of streams to equate to a single purchase. Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book debuted at #8 as an Apple Music streaming exclusive (no iTunes downloads during that exclusive), which was also a first for streaming-only.
Streaming and Downloads
While the music industry undergoes a multiyear transition to a streaming-dominated model, Apple is in a uniqe position to deliver exposure and availability with Apple Music and iTunes. Three albums debuting at number one is a demonstration of that power, and will likely make it easier for Apple to score more exclusive debuts.
The industry and its artists love number one debuts, and only Apple seems able to deliver them. That’s not bad for a service like Apple Music many criticized as being late to market. It also shows the wisdom of Apple’s careful approach to adding a streaming service without disrupting its leagacy download business.