Music streaming services now account for more revenue than CD sales in the US for the first time ever.
According to the Financial Times, digital downloads – as popularized by iTunes – still rule the roost, but the gap is getting smaller by the minute.
With this in mind, it looks as though Apple’s planned foray into the music streaming scene is arriving at the perfect time.
Of course, Apple has already dabbled in the streaming game with iTunes Radio. But since their $3bn acquisition of Beats Music last year, a full overhaul of the Beats streaming service has been in the works and is expected to compete strongly with existing services in the market.
Apple will be designing the service in-house, in conjunction with Beats’ existing technologies and content. Although it’s expected to be fully integrated into iOS, iTunes and even the Apple TV, this will also be the first time Apple has developed for rival devices. There is an Android app in the works but no reports of support for Windows phones. A large number of Beats’ existing user base is on Android and they will be able to merge their accounts and libraries into the new service.
Apple initially wanted the service to be priced at $7.99/month to undercut the competition, but there could be movement on that stance. Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, Deezer and Google Play Music all charge $9.99 for their premium streaming service, and Apple’s recent talks with record labels mean it may have to cede to the industry standard as well.
There is no official release date as yet for the service but it could be unveiled formally at WWDC in June or be saved as a key feature for the anticipated launch of iOS9 later this year.
Apple is often late to the game with new technologies but go on to define the market – they weren’t the first to make mp3 players or smartphones and look what happened there. With the might of iTunes on their side – plus of course Dr Dre, co-founder of Beats – who would bet against history repeating itself with music streaming?