After 18 years, Apple announced at their recent WWDC event that they’ll be shutting down iTunes.
No, just kidding.
As a musician, your primary concern is probably: “Will my customers still be able to access the music they downloaded through iTunes?”
Yes. They will.
Downloaded files are still accessible via Apple Music.
iTunes as a music store, music library, and music player isn’t really going away; those features are just being folded into Apple’s dedicated music app, Apple Music (which is also their subscription streaming service). The iTunes Music Store will be accessible from the Sidebar of Apple Music.
As Apple explains:
Users will have access to their entire music library, whether they downloaded the songs, purchased them or ripped them from a CD. For those who like to own their music, the iTunes Music Store is just a click away.
The media has covered this story as the “killing off” of iTunes, but it’s more like a rebrand. iTunes had just become… too many things: a place for music, movies, TV, podcasts, summer vacation rentals, used cars, health food. (I’m lying about a few of those).
Apple’s upcoming macOS Catalina will replace the existing iTunes experience with three dedicated apps — Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV — meant to simplify the way Mac users access shows, movies, podcasts, and music.
So is the “download” going away?
Not right now. Downloads are still a thing, as evidenced by the fact that Apple will continue to support the purchase, ownership, and syncing of digital files. But let me state the obvious: Subscription streaming is very much the priority of today’s music industry, and when it comes to music, Apple’s focus is no different.
We’re in the midst of a massive shift from an ownership model to an access and usage model. This change has been happening for more than a decade, and it will probably continue for years to come. But clearly the closure of iTunes — the most powerful retail player in the history of digital music — should tell us whether we’re closer to the start or finish of that transition.