by Matthew Isenberg
The demise of iTunes would leave huge implications about the current state of the industry. iTunes has, for years, been the main retailer of digital music distribution, and Apple’s dissolution of the service would imply that selling music is completely pointless. While music sales have been down in recent years, music is still selling, with vinyl sales higher now than they have been in over 20 years.Until streaming companies such as Spotify and Apple’s own Apple Music start paying artists more for streaming royalties, digital downloads still supply many artists with profit. Outlets such as BandCamp have emerged, allowing artists to place their music for sale whatever price they feel fit, with many artists finding success, including Macintosh Plus, Machine Girl, and XXYYXX. Until these types of platforms are more popularized, iTunes is still the best place for an artist to have their music represented.
To consumers, iTunes was a fast and convient place to buy music, with the biggest advantage being the ability to buy songs from an album without having to purchase the entire project (save for certain artists such as AC/DC). The music industry took note of this and scrambled to adjust, realizing the impact this would have on album sales. As a result many popular artists took less time into promoting albums and starting boosting up individual singles, to the point that, in the era of EDM and hip-hop as the top selling genres, many artist began releasing singles instead of albums, or just releasing bulks of music for free (a strategy that has proven fruitful for artists such as Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane, and Young Thug, who have each been featured on number on hits since they began their career).
With this, it makes sense that an artist would iTunes would feel a threat, that artists and labels do not feel the need to sell music anymore, but it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t. While people may stop buying music at some point, many people still enjoy supporting their favorite artist buying digital copies to help get their favorite up the charts. CD and Vinyl sales are beating out digital download, but this could be stopped if iTunes were to give consumers another incentive to buy music from them, something beyond a bonus track that can easily be found later on YouTube.
As music makers, publishers, and producers, we should do everything in our power as artists and consumers to ensure that music will remain valued and be available for purchase for years to come.