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.

Apple Music and iTunes

Apple Music and iTunes

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.

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Another thing that baffles me – why can’t we download full CD-quality tracks from the iTunes store? Apple already has a perfectly good format for this – Apple Lossless – which is supported in iTunes and on every Apple device back to the original iPod!!

Then again, maybe it’s good that they don’t do this – it would drain my wallet a bit too quickly. ;-/


@paikinho Agreed – it is unfortunate and illogical that the exact same stream of songs sent over the internet incurs higher royalties than satellite radio, which in turn incurs higher royalties than terrestrial broadcast radio. It seems to be the result of regulatory regimes that incumbents were able to get enacted in order to protect their existing markets and business models. As you note, streaming – and in particular preprogrammed streaming, either by human or robotic DJs – is wonderful for music discovery and should be considered promotion like terrestrial radio. As streams become more customized – including per-song playlists… Read more »


I wish they would fix it so that you can sync your music collection to your iPhone, drag music to it, and also have Apple Music library tracks on the phone at the same time. Unfortunately, in order to cache Apple Music tracks on your phone, you need to activate Apple Music Library, which breaks iTunes syncing. Why can’t iTunes and Apple Music Library get along nicely? This shouldn’t be rocket science. Another thing that’s way too hard with Apple Music is playlist sharing and discovery. You can do it, but it’s astonishingly inconvenient. It’s nice that sites like… Read more »


I noticed on the Mac Geek Gab the other day Dave said that his daughter had “taken over” his Pandora account, and being a Dad of 11-year-old twins, I can sympathize! Streaming music like Apple Music seems to be for 1) Kids (up to 35, as Rudolf Steiner said), who need to find more music that they like. Those of us above a certain age have ALL the music we want to listen to on our devices already: the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s (and sometimes the 40s): the best decades in music. And 2) musicians, amateur musicians, DJs, and… Read more »


What bums me out is my wife and I used apple music kind of like Pandora we loved it because we could listen to our stations which were getting better and better over time. Sometimes we would go on a buying binge and pick up 20-30 songs we really enjoyed from our stations. Then it was switched to a pay service and we stopped using our stations. No new music discovery on iTunes … no more music purchases. I think things went for the worse. I don’t like this idea of getting services for built in monthly costs. As you… Read more »

Lee Dronick

I am not interested in streaming, I want to download and create my own playlists. Radio and such are handy for finding music and artists.