British Columbia

Streaming music may be only option as report says Apple to dump downloads

On The Coast's pop culture columnist says it's only rumours at this point, but downloads may fade to black.

Downloads peaked in 2012 and have been dropping fast, pop culture columnist says

The Apple logo is illuminated in the entrance to the Fifth Avenue Apple store, in New York. Apple's iTunes may be on the outs in favour of streaming, a report suggests. (Mark Lennihan/Associated Press)

Recent speculation that Apple will shut down its music download business within two years in favour of a streaming-only service has caused a bit of a flap among music downloaders and industry watchers.

Apple issued a quick denial, but rumours have been flying ever since, according to On The Coast pop culture columnist Kim Linekin.

She says one credible source claimed the move was being considered because it's "what Steve Jobs would've done."

"He had this policy of aggressively phasing out old technology while it was still making money so he could push the next big thing," she told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn. "If you milk the old stuff dry you run the risk of having too many competing, confusing products on the market at once."

Linekin says downloading peaked in 2012 and it's been dropping fast ever since in favour of streaming.

Adding to this, Apple users have complained the Apple Music streaming service overlaps in confusing ways, or even cannibalizes, the iTunes store, the iCloud music library and the iTunes Match service.

Apple Music is believed to be the number two music streaming service in the world, with 13 million subscribers, and since its parent company has the deep pockets to run the service at a loss for a while, it's well-positioned to keep gathering users and wait for streaming to become more lucrative.

Indie labels may also be at risk

But while streaming continues to grow, the business model has come under attack from some of the artists who provide the product itself because the amount of money going to the artists is too low.

Taylor Swift, Adele and Radiohead are examples, as is the now-departed Prince.

"According to [an] anonymous record executive, artists are better off staying independent than signing with anyone … so indie labels might disappear along with downloading," Linekin said.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast