Apple announced at their Worldwide Developer Conference in San Jose, California on June 3 that the company will begin phasing out their music-purchasing software iTunes.
The platform will be replaced with three separate apps: one for movies and TV, one for podcasts, and a music app that will replace the iTunes purchasing model with the subscription-based streaming service Apple Music (the company launched Apple Music in June of 2015, but kept iTunes until this year). Instead of being able to purchase songs individually, users will need to pay monthly for access to music hosted on the platform, similar to streaming successes Spotify and Pandora. But for local musicians and businesses in the Rochester area, the disappearance of iTunes could mean trouble.
The well-known local Rochester band Teagan and the Tweeds almost exclusively uses iTunes to promote and sell their music. Katy Wright, the band’s keyboard player, said, “We put our newest album on there, I think we have an older one on there as well, so whenever we’re promoting that, we do promote that we’re on iTunes.” Wright does not yet know what her band will do in the wake of iTunes removal. “Really the only thing people could find us on right now [besides iTunes] would be YouTube, so I don’t know how that transfer is gonna work yet.”
The decision to phase out iTunes will not only affect consumers who purchase music on the platform, and musicians who use it to monetize their music, but also those who use it for business.
Steven Turner is a local DJ and the owner of Turner Music Productions. Over the last 35 years, he has built an extensive iTunes playlist. While he has begun using other software in addition to iTunes for his work, he says for those starting out in the DJ business, iTunes is the best way to build a professional library. “I think for some beginning DJs maybe who haven’t really established a music collection yet, iTunes would be a good source for that.”
Some music industry experts have anticipated that the next five years or so may see a CD revival, similar to the vinyl resurgence of a few years ago. Katy Wright is hopeful the phasing out of iTunes will bring people to recall the comforts of physical music. “I think it would actually be really cool if that happened. I sort of miss the nostalgia of holding a CD and being able to flip through the booklet inside, and seeing the pictures, and reading the lyrics. I think it would be kinda cool, and maybe pick business up in a different way, like for record stores and such.”
For some, iTunes was never a big deal in the first place. Alayna Alderman, Vice President and co-owner of Record Archive, says she never used iTunes, and that the death of iTunes was predictable. “I know that the labels were really struggling with monetizing it and supporting their artists, and I think it’s been challenging overall. So, you know, whatever; they’re closing up. Big deal. We move on, the music gets consumed somewhere else, that’s how it works.”
The change for iTunes is expected to come in September of this year. The phasing-out process will begin with the launch of Apple’s new operating system, OS X 10.15 Catalina, which will be available in September. Catalina will be accompanied by the launch of a new iOS (the operating system for iPhones, iPads, and other mobile Apple devices) which will also introduce the phasing-out of the iTunes software.