I have a confession to make.
I am still a music downloader. I prefer to download music and store it on my phone. I don’t still have an old iPod, but yes I still treat my current iPhone as if it was one for music purposes. I don’t pay for any streaming service. If I do stream music, I do so on a desktop and I suffer through the commercials.
I am aware this puts me in a tiny minority of music consumers. But I still enjoy my air of superiority when I’m on a plane and I can listen to music without issue while you’re messing with the spotty plane wi-fi. I love putting on shuffle and then finding an old song my angsty teenaged self thought was great music and realizing it’s still a great jam.
In light of this, it kind of rocked my world when rumors started leaking about Apple deciding to shut down its iTunes Store service in the near future. Increasingly, it’s seeming like that may be the case, although the reported March 31st, 2019 end date is still not really confirmed.
If it happens, it’ll be the end of an era certainly. But us music downloaders have been forced to adapt to Apple’s whims before. iTunes hasn’t always been kind to us. We’ve gone through the good (elimination of the silly DRM protections), the bad ($1.29 songs), and the bizarre (what was iTunes Plus?). Of course, this is also an end that we’ve long seen coming. Besides, as much as iTunes was the face of music downloads, it’s an open secret that most music downloads aren’t happening on iTunes anyways.
The end is also probably being accelerated by the slow-burning success of Apple Music. While we still think of Spotify as the industry leader, Apple Music’s subscriber base is matching Spotify’s growth and Apple is not maintaining Spotify’s expensive free tier user base. Improbably, Apple Music might actually be making more money than Spotify and beating Spotify at its own game. (Side note: Spotify please don’t shut down your free tier. I really appreciate it, even though it increasingly doesn’t make much business sense.)
I’m not looking forward to when the iTunes Store is ripped from my hands. I’ll miss its vast library, sometimes glitchy design and functionality, and the music snippets. But like I have through many previous changes to iTunes, I think I’ll just adapt and figure out how to maintain my attachment to a quixotic, decade-plus-old way of consuming music.