The Way of the Future: The Pros and Cons Consumers with a Music Subscription Service

PHOTO: andrew-howie.com

by Stephanie L. Carlin

Earlier this month, leaked email started a bit of a panic for music consumers when the email suggested that Apple was going to delete iTunes as early as April of this year. As it turns out, Apple is planning to stop taking LP submissions by April 1. iTunes LPs are those pockets of artwork that come with the purchase of an album. Users will still have access to them after April 1 but new ones won’t be made after that. Later this month, there was also a BBC interview with executive of Apple Music Jimmy Iovine suggested that pretty soon, iTunes will phase out.

“If I’m honest, it’s when people stop buying,” he said. “It’s very simple.” While some sources suggest that the deletion of iTunes could come as early as 2019, there is no date confirmed by Apple at this time.

So, iTunes is dead, right? Not quite. Like Iovine said, it’s when people stop buying, and while digital downloads have gone down in recent years, the 2017 sales were still $757 million for digital downloads. Still, if iTunes is going down, where’s the next best place for music? Statistically, it’s paid subscription. Spotify has paid subscriptions increasing from 30 million in 2016 to 70 million. Apple Music is set to surpass Spotify in its user population by this summer. Overall last year, music subscription services like Spotify, Apple Music, and even YouTube music helped raise a 48% increase in revenue.

As a musician on these platforms, we’ve discussed the pros and cons before with similar services like Spotify. However, music subscription as a listener can have some benefits. Most of the popular services have a rate of $9.99/month per subscription, which is relatively affordable, especially if it’s shared with other listeners. For college students in particular, both Apple Music and Spotify offer a 50% discount, with Spotify even offering Hulu as an addition. Plus, many of these services have access to tens of millions of songs and will make suggestions the more you use the product.

The disadvantages are a little obvious. These are online services, meaning that there’s a chance these accounts can be traced and hacked. There have been accounts of hidden fees that these companies won’t tell you about. If you live outside the U.S., not all of these services are going to be available for you, so you may still have to rely on music listening tools such as iTunes and other digital download platforms to get your music.

If all else fails, there are still CDs in the Berklee Library as well as many other libraries that anyone can check out for free.

 Do you or anyone you know use Apple Music? Let us know in the comments!