I’m not quite sure whether iTunes LP was a bad idea or simply one that neither Apple (aside from Steve Jobs?) nor the music producers actually had much interest in. 

I think this signals less "whether iTunes LP was a bad idea" (though the skeuomorphism Jobs loved is slowly dying our from the `OSes) than "someone's paying attention to scaling down iTunes". I think they're slowly moving towards killing music sales, no matter what Sellers at AWT thinks. ;^D

I tried to think of why this is happening now, and believe it falls in with a general deprecation of non-Apple Music (qua the streaming service) features in iTunes. Here are a few data points...

  • Cesium's author points out that playing music on your own phone is increasingly difficult via Apple Music in iOS 11.
    • That is, where Apple Music API used to be an easy way to access files and streams, it's now neither. A change is coming.
  • HomePod is an obvious push towards subscriptions.
    • The only music you can play that doesn't require at least an Apple Match subscription is stuff you bought directly from Apple.
    • In a sense, those files are delivered via streaming too... the only twist is that you sometimes save the bytes.
  • This useless Android Apple Music app, which can't even play what you've purchased from Apple. It's only streaming.
  • As Michael Tsai remarked recently (and I mighta mentioned), Amazon recently ended its song hosting.
  • Microsoft stopped its streaming service and replaced it with Spotify.
  • And Microsoft stopped selling online music completely.

The writing's on the wall. Heck, Apple Music on iTunes has a whole second UI...

After cashing in a $100 for $85 Apple Music gift card (<<< I'm not an affiliate, but it looks like it was legit), iTunes asked me if I'd like to put that towards an Apple Music subscription.

Snake oil

No, no I wouldn't. But I did drop into the Apple Music UI side of iTunes, which is obviously different than the normal iTunes Music Store. I bet there's some crossover with the Android app. After looking around the posh store of which I wasn't a member, I slunk out, knowing there's a new side to iTunes I don't get to experience.

Follow the money

I don't blame Apple, much. Streaming revenue continues to grow like mad, and 36 million x $100 or so is lots more than $600 million in digital sales.

The number will continue going lower. And subtract from that number the cost to support the mammoth mess that is iTunes and the iTunes Music Store. Microsoft's Groove is a small-scale test of the economics of supporting music sales. There are better places to spend that development time.

The Apple Music side of iTunes will eat the iTunes Music Store. We're getting rid of the cruft of the Store now. In a year or two, the iTMS will be a clear second fiddle to Music. Then we'll get a warning, like I did on Groove, to download all my purchases by a certain date, or they'll be unavailable.

And finally, acceptance

After years of hang-wringing, I find that by now I don't really mind that online track sales is dying. I have a good collection.

And I'm lucky enough to have a local record store. Here's what they wrote to all of their newsletter subscribers when Best Buy said it was closing down CD sales...

From Monster Music:

The whole point of all of this isn't to slam Best Buy...  But what invariably happens when the media reports an item like this is that the general public totally misconstrues what's going on.


What's going on, as it affects you, is... well, not much.


Except for this - not only are we going to continue to sell CDs, we're actually adding to our CD inventory.

I don't see vinyl getting less hipster. And, as they say later in their letter, "Three, there will be a CD resurgence one day, you know there will. It might not be as drastic and fantastic as the vinyl resurgence, but I'll bet it'll be stronger than the cassette revival." That's probably a good call too.

After the iTunes Music Store closes its doors, I'll still have music to buy. And rip. And mix. And burn.

Rip. Mix. Burn. iMac.

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