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.
- 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.
- 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.