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Apple Will Stop Selling Music Downloads on March 31st, 2019

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This certainly would’ve added some good fuel to the recent debate I had with Anthrax’s Charlie Benante about evolving technology in the music industry: multiple sources are saying that Apple will start winding down the sales of music downloads in the iTunes store on March 31st, 2019.

This news shouldn’t be shocking. Paid download numbers were down in 2017 — way down — and the growth in streaming services over the past few years has been meteoric. Why pay $10 to download files of an album when you could pay that same amount per month to have access to essentially the entire history of recorded music, any time, anywhere? The experience after the purchase is the same, anyway; you press a button, and the music plays.

Digital Music News is citing sources inside Apple pointing to March 31st, 2019 as the date Apple will make the announcement iTunes will no longer sell downloads. The exact date that downloads become completely unavailable is unclear, but there will allegedly be a phase-out process that winds down the store. All previous file downloads will continue to work across all Apple devices after that time.

Apple’s streaming service now has 40 million paid subscribers, closing ground on Spotify’s tally of 71 million. Apple is betting that shutting off paid downloads will accelerate their streaming platform’s growth to help narrow that gap further, or even surpass it, and with interest in paid downloads declining rapidly now certainly seems like a good time to make that move.

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