The future of iTunes
Update, 4th June 2019: The BBC have confirmed this news. Notable:
iTunes will remain unchanged on Windows platforms, and downloads will still be available in a sidebar on the Apple Music app for Macs.
My original post follows.
Last week I read a few articles about the alleged closure of iTunes, with the suggestion that Apple will announce separate apps for music, TV and podcasts.
These articles talk about the introduction of Apple Music likely sounding the death knell of iTunes, citing how iTunes originally gave listeners a legal way to listen to music way back in 2001 – replacing earlier alternatives such as Napster.
Spotify is the obvious successor, offering a catalogue of music for a monthly fee.
But if iTunes is retired, what’s the best way to play music you bought in the past and don’t want to lose access to if you stop the neverending monthly fees? How about music that isn’t on streaming services at all?
I’m sure I’m in the minority here. Who cares, right? Spotify is easy to use (I do use it regularly) and it works well across all of your devices. I’m even more on board with Spotify than I used to be, having ditched Apple’s iOS ecosystem and plumped for the Samsung S8. Transferring MP3s to an Android device from Mac OS is pretty janky.
Still, I have thousands of MP3s that I bought individually from dance music sites such as Juno Download, just so I could make my own compilations. Some of the tracks are on Spotify, but a good 50% of them aren’t.
When I sold almost my entire CD collection due to most of it being on Spotify, I kept a bunch of dance collections – both mixed and unmixed – as they weren’t available to stream. Dance compilations do seem to be the running theme here.
I guess I shouldn’t complain too much, though. Currently, almost all the music I want to listen to is on Spotify. That’s not the case when you look at the minefield of TV series and movies. The current crop of Netflix, Amazon, Google Play and iTunes (or not) doesn’t cover everything. How many monthly fees does it take to build a collection of the shows and movies you love? Furthermore, how much of that content will be there in 12 months time?
With a successor to iTunes potentially coming soon (and it’s probably overdue), it makes me wonder if Apple will try to compete with Spotify head-on, and aim to grab some artist or album exclusives – similar to how some content is only on Netflix or Amazon. I’m not sure what’s worse: the near-monopoly of Spotify, or the fragmentation of content across different streaming services. Still, choice is good.
It remains to be seen whether playing offline files such as MP3s will continue to work in an iTunes successor.