Apple is planning to stop selling music downloads in the next couple years to focus instead on its Apple Music streaming services, according to insiders claiming to know the company's plans. That sounds like a horrible plan, so it's a good thing it isn't true, and it may be time for a couple insider sources to start job hunting.
The iTunes music store isn't shutting down
Unnamed sources with "close and active business relationships" with Apple told Digital Music News the iPhone and iPad maker has plans to end downloadable music sales over the next two years, or maybe the next three to four years, or maybe longer. Once source added, "If he were alive, [Steve] Jobs would have killed it."
DMN goes on to point out that downloadable music purchases still account for millions upon millions of dollars for Apple, and despite the overall decline in music sales, the iTunes Store is still bringing in serious money.
Still, insiders privy to Apple's plans and declining sales do make for a pretty ominous outlook for digital music sales—except that it isn't true. When asked about the report that music sales are on the chopping block, Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr told Re/code, "Not true."
Mr. Neumayr's response makes a lot more sense, and it's more believable, too. He's in a much better position to speak about Apple's plans that unnamed sources outside the company.
The Recording Industry Association of America says music download sales dropped from US$2.8 billion annually in 2013 to $2.5 billion in 2014, and $2.3 billion in 2015. While downloadable music sales have been on the decline for a few years, they still make for a significant part of the overall digital music market—and that's not something the record industry, or companies like Apple are ready to abandon.
What makes more sense is that music sales through the iTunes Store will decline as Apple Music subscriptions increase, and eventually the industry will have to decide if there's any value left in the sales model. Considering CD sales haven't gone away, it's a safe bet the music industry won't be reevaluating digital music sales any time soon.
What seems more plausible is that the insider sources who spilled their inaccurate beans to DMN are in for a stern talk at best, and walking papers at worst—and they won't have to wait two years for that to happen.