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Apple considers 'dramatic' revamping of iTunes Music Store

updated 04:54 pm EDT, Wed April 9, 2014

iTunes Radio failing to convert listeners into buyers

Apple is considering a major overhaul of the iTunes Music Store in light of iTunes Radio failing to slow the decline of music downloads, say anonymous executives allegedly familiar with the company's plans. One of the key features of iTunes Radio, from Apple's perspective, is the ease with which it lets people by music from the iTunes Store. Only about 1 to 2 percent of people are actually tapping the Buy button though, and overall music downloads have declined by more than 15 percent.

Compounding Apple's problems are the many alternatives record labels have for distribution. Streaming services like Spotify and Pandora are far more popular than iTunes Radio, and multi-platform; likewise, labels can upload music videos to YouTube. One independent label says that iTunes' contribution to its revenue has dropped from 70 percent in 2012 to 50 percent today. Another source claims that as much as two-thirds of Apple's "high-value" customers are now with subscription services.

Apple is reportedly mulling a variety of options, from Spotify-like on-demand streaming to putting iTunes on Android. Another possibility is negotiating download sales windows that favor Apple. Sources say however that action plans are being hotly contested, both within Apple and among content partners. iTunes Radio was allegedly conceived as part of a transition to streaming along with iTunes Match; Match has also been disappointing though, with label sources claiming that it only has about 1 million subscribers.

The exclusivity of the iTunes Store to Apple hardware (apart from Windows PCs) is also believed to be an obstacle. Android is now the dominant phone platform on a global level, and its users have little need to buy music through iTunes, since they can choose to get music from Google Play or any other download service, if they don't skip straight to streaming.



By Electronista Staff
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  1. bobolicious

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 08-15-02

    lossless (cd) quality and a retro (a few words) legal agreement might tempt me more...
    has anyone read the full itunes agreement for a $1 download...?

  1. iphonerulez

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-28-08

    So much doom and gloom about Apple. Much of this could be the result of a weak economy. Or have people really stopped buying music for all time. It must go through some sort of cycle over a period of years. I have many ways of getting music and don't really need high-quality music as I grew up listening to old 45s and transistor radios. I'm only looking for relatively decent music content. I'm very pleased to listen to free Spotify for all the songs I'm interested in which are mainly oldies. I occasionally listen to iTunes Radio but Spotify mostly fulfills my needs. Aside from a collection of older Freestyle music I don't think I have much more of a need to increase my music collection.

    It's strange why Apple is always some sort of trouble with one thing or another. Are there companies that really don't have some slowdowns every once in a while when it comes to their busines?

  1. Mr. Strat

    Junior Member

    Joined: 01-23-02

    iTunes Radio sucks. I type in Led Zeppelin because I want to hear Zeppelin and get a bunch of crap that has nothing to do with Zep. WTF?

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    Mr. Strat, you may misunderstand what iTunes Radio is, then -- it's not for creating stations that play a single artist, it's for creating stations that give you a variety of music loosely (and sometimes tightly) related to the artist that is the subject of the radio station. If you create a Zeppelin station, you're going to get a lot of classic rock by a lot of different artists. If you create a Jay-Z station, you're going to get a lot of rap by a lot of different artists.

    Your Led Zeppelin station probably plays some Zeppelin songs, along with a smattering of other British-invasion, classic, bluesy, rock, and a touch of modern music that has a small flavor of Zeppelin somewhere deep down (or on the surface).

    I doubt your Zeppelin station plays Miley Cyrus, The Flaming Lips, or Pavarotti, right? Much like actual radio stations that are based loosely around some general genre of music, iTunes Radio is not a solution for streaming specific songs or artists -- it's a solution for listening to music that is related to artists you like in some way and discovering new music. Much as you have little control over what songs your actual radio plays, so goes the modus operandi of iTunes Radio.

    Sometimes their algorithm is hit and miss (maybe you do hear a Miley song every once in a blue moon on a Zeppelin station) but for the most part, it's pretty good if you understand what iTunes Radio is, and what it is not.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-25-07

    Heck, I'd guess a lot of people don't know it's an option (tapping Buy in iTunes Radio) and probably need to get that functionality pushed at them through a lot of advertising targeting that very feature.
    I was vaguely aware of it, but haven't really looked into it. I may do so now. :D

  1. Stuke

    Junior Member

    Joined: 02-11-05

    Gee, I wonder if that's because only 10% - 20% of the 1% - 2% are still on unlimited data plans, and don't suffer from obvious data throttling at the hands of their ISP. Really, streaming anything in today's cellular marketplace is more and more consciously avoided by people tired of all the b*LLsh*t of carrier data plans. If Apple would come up with a flat fee unlimited carrier plan and network across which to offer it, I'm willing to bet a 10 fold increase in radio streaming would be immediate measurable.

  1. pairof9s

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 01-03-08

    I'm more inclined not to use the "Buy" button because nearly all the songs are $1.29 these days and THAT makes a difference in my desire to purchase versus listening. The magic of .99 is not to be underestimated...even by greedy music moguls 10 years after their last fall.

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 08-04-01

    IME, only the fairly recent "hot" songs are $1.29, oldies and less well-known tunes tend to be 99 cents still ... sometimes even less!

  1. pairof9s

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 01-03-08

    chas_m: Have you been on iTunes recently? As I'm typing this, I'm watching Soundgarden play their "Superuknown" album live on iTunes Festival in celebration of its 20th anniversary debut...just checked & every one of those album songs (radio hit or not) is $1.29...not really fairly recent hot music would you say?

    I'm just saying, if they wanna charge $1.29 for the first 6 months music is out then revert them to .99, ok. But making the large part of the catalog a $1.29 has turned me (others) off to buying.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Give me lossless downloads, and I will buy.

  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 11-03-09

    Originally Posted by pairof9sView Post

    I'm more inclined not to use the "Buy" button because nearly all the songs are $1.29 these days and THAT makes a difference in my desire to purchase versus listening. The magic of .99 is not to be underestimated...even by greedy music moguls 10 years after their last fall.



    Pffft. And you people say Android users are cheap!

  1. pairof9s

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 01-03-08

    Originally Posted by wrenchyView Post

    Pffft. And you people say Android users are cheap!



    Well how about you send me .30 every time I want to buy a song since it's not that big a deal, Daddy Warbucks

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-25-07

    Or you could just work an extra hour a year. ;)

  1. coffeetime

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 11-15-06

    Pandora is much better in choosing the right song/music than iTunes to be honest. I am aware of the buy button from iTunes (and Pandora) but I find streaming becomes more convinent than managing your own library plus it has the new song discovery feature. Especially for casual listeners, free streaming becomes more obvious choice.

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