Nearly two decades after its launch revolutionised the music industry, iTunes will be no more. Bloomberg reports that Apple will announce the end of iTunes at its developer conference next Monday, replacing the all-encompassing media store with separate apps for music, TV, and podcasts on its computers.
This separation has already occurred on iPhones and iPads, and comes after years of rumours that Apple was looking to discontinue iTunes.. The new Music app is still expected to allow users to purchase digital songs, a method of consumption that is waning in the streaming era. Previous reports have indicated that Apple was looking to kill mp3 downloads altogether in favour of its Apple Music subscription product, but there’s no indication that’s happening yet.
Still, the loss of iTunes marks a symbolic end for the company, which pushed the music industry into the digital era at a time when it was dealing with rampant piracy issues. iTunes is also credited with helping to decoupling songs and albums as commercial products, and drove the sale of over 400 million iPods. Over time, it grew to include movies, television shows, podcasts, and more.
Digital music purchases have fallen to record lows, declining for the sixth consecutive year in 2018 to just $1 billion in sales, according to RIAA. Streaming continues to grow at a rapid clip, making up a reported 75 percent of revenue for the music industry last year.
Financial windfalls are expected to continue as streaming enters emerging global markets, although questions remain about the financial models underpinning these services. Spotify only posted its first quarterly operating profit earlier this year, and the financials of TIDAL remain murky.