The Death Of iTunes Impacts Southern Gospel Fans

The Death Of iTunes Impacts Southern Gospel Fans

UPDATE (June 4, 2019): After a newspaper printed his obituary, Mark Twain said, “The rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated,” and that appears to be the case with iTunes…sort of. iTunes IS going away, as we reported, and the current Apple Music app IS just for streaming. However, the new Apple Music app that is replacing iTunes (along with new apps for TV and Podcasts) will include an option to buy downloads just as iTunes does now. Click HERE for a more in-depth explanation, and thank you to reader Daniel H. who called it to my attention.

The original article is below.


Historically, Southern Gospel fans trail well behind the trends in music technology and formats. Cassettes and LPs remained their format of choice years after CDs had been embraced by fans of larger genres. The Gaither Homecoming series eventually made the switch from VHS to DVD…so late that you’d be hard pressed to find ANYTHING on VHS in any other sort of store. All the major Southern Gospel labels continue to release albums on CD, even though downloads became popular in the early 2000s.

According to reports that hit the news yesterday, Apple will soon replace/split the iTunes application into three apps: Music, TV, and Podcasts. The announcement is expected to be made on June 3 at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference in San Jose, California. The key difference is that iTunes allowed consumers to purchase and download songs. Apple Music is an app that currently resides inside iTunes and as a standalone app on iPhones. It is a pay-to-stream service with three tiers: Student ($4.99/month), Individual ($9.99/month), and Family ($14.99/month).

If you are one who prefers buying downloads to streaming, this is not the end…yet. Amazon and other providers for the time being will continue to sell downloads.

Many Southern Gospel fans won’t even notice iTunes is gone. Trailing behind the trends as they do, many fans have never bought downloads, always preferring CDs. There may come a time in the near future, however, when Southern Gospel and other smaller genres can no longer produce CDs due to economic supply and demand factors. I expect CDs will ultimately be like vinyl, never completely going away, but I also realize that sales of CDs have yet to hit bottom. It’s only then that CD production can be said to “resurge” as vinyl has done in recent years.

Is streaming really so different from the other format changes throughout history? Yes, it is. Changing from a physical format to digital downloads in the early 2000s was different for obvious reasons, but moving from that to streaming is even more of a fundamental change in how we perceive music as consumers

As the opportunity to buy downloads dies, the concept of a fan “owning” (though it was never truly owned) a copy of their favorite song dies with it. Furthermore, the music industry is possibly leaving a lot of cash on the table they’d otherwise get from a music fan.

  1. If I possess a CD or a vinyl LP, or even I’m just buying a digital file, I’m invested in THAT artist specifically. As such, I’m naturally curious about what sort of new music they’ll make in the future.
  2. With a subscription to a streaming service, I’ve already locked the maximum amount I’m going to spend on music at $9.99/month.

DECADES AGO, I used to spend more than $10 on a typical single trip to the record store. I’d spend more than $10 on cassettes or CDs at concerts as well. This is because I was a fan of certain artists and wanted to own their latest and greatest.

30-40 years later, there are more than 50 million songs competing for my attention on Apple Music, and I’m not going to spend any more or any less than $9.99/month.

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both SGHistory.com and MusicScribe.com. David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

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8 Comments

  1. Reply June 01, 14:01 #1 Corbin Butler

    Thanks for your thoughts and input, we continue to evolve with our music.

  2. Reply June 01, 14:16 #2 Gradie

    Thanks for the info. Now to spend all weekend buying and downloading songs.

  3. Reply June 01, 14:29 #3 Scotty Searan

    I guess the trouble with us senior citizens, we want a hard copy of our music.
    It was a way of showing possession of a product.
    It is just hard for us to come to grips, that it is streaming music.
    Even though I can edit my files to make them sound like they were vinyl, it is not the real things.
    While mentioning the $10 dollar product back in the days.
    I can remember the $2 & $3 products.
    I can remember going to a concert and getting 5 albums for $5.
    When I was younger, I remember the Canaan Record Club, You could either buy 2 and get 1 free, or buy 6 and get 5 free. You could prepay and the shipping was free. Also no sales tax.
    I remember the major labels.
    Canaan Records
    Heart Warming Records
    Skylite Records
    Sing Records
    Songs of Faith Records
    Scripture Records.
    I could pretty well keep up with all the major artists products on these labels.
    Wages was a lot lower then with me working for $1 per hour, but I could bring home $35 on a 40 hour week.
    When I retired 5 years ago I was making $20 per hour bringing home $600 on a 40 hour week before Insurance and retirement being taken out.
    I could not, keep up with the amount of music being put out today in Southern Gospel, but I could back in the 60’s.
    The singers are good and the groups have a calling from God to minister, but is our market saturated and killing itself.
    One thing I miss so much is the banter announcers had with their local audiences by telling the people who is singing a song.
    I can be going down the road and a new song comes on and I don’t know who is singing or maybe an older one is playing and I don’t remember who is singing it.
    Radio and streaming just doesn’t have the banter and feel of radio anymore.
    Yes I was a DJ.
    Some memories of mine that I am sharing.

  4. Reply June 02, 13:03 #4 NBer

    My 26 year old daughter will feel the same way about this that I felt about the demise of vinyl in the 1980’s.

  5. Reply June 03, 12:42 #5 Jeff

    How is a label like Daywind profitable if people are only spending 10 dollars a month for unlimited playing of music on spotify. I used to spend nearly 20.00 to get 3 cd’s when I was growing up. Not to mention the cd club from BMG/Columbia.

  6. Reply June 04, 14:05 #6 Daniel H

    According to this article it’s not taking away the music buy-to-own option, but maybe I misread it. https://www.yahoo.com/news/apple-isn-t-really-killing-003826266.html

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