Peak iTunes? Digital music downloads decrease for the first time since the online store opened



For the first time since the iTunes Store in 2003, digital music sales have declined over the past year, reports Billboard. Specifically, individual song downloads took the biggest hit, dropping to 1.26 billion—a 5.7% from the previous year’s total. Entire albums fared substantially better, with only a 0.1% drop overall from 2012.

So far there are no official numbers on streaming music, so it’s quite possible (and likely) that streaming solutions such as iTunes Radio have actually overtaken purchases as the preferred method of listening. In fact, shortly after iOS 7’s launch, Pandora reported in influx of new users, even as Apple moved many of its own users to its new streaming platform.

Digital downloasds aren’t the only thing that’s declined over the past year. Physical CD sales have also dropped 14.5%, although that hardly seems unexpected. What is unexpected is the fact that vinyl sales have actually increased by 31% in the past year. What’s old is new again…

And in case you’re wondering, Robin Thicke took the title of most-downloaded song of 2013 with his hit “Blurred Lines.” Second on the list was “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.


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  1. WaveMedia (@WaveMedia) - 9 years ago

    I guess the second half of the year having naught but mostly bad releases has nothing to do with it? It was a pretty crap year for music past June or so.

  2. PMZanetti - 9 years ago

    Poor selection of new music (new Pop music, I should say), along with the increasingly popular streaming music from iTunes Radio and Pandora…these data are not the least bit surprising.

  3. rahhbriley - 9 years ago

    Cool to see how well vinyl is doing. I purchased a Technics turntable 3 years ago and have enjoyed that a lot of my favorite artist have been releasing their albums on vinyl. They’re often very close in price to the cd version, but normally come with a high quality digital download also. Analog sound, I love you!

  4. Jim Phong - 9 years ago

    They need to lower prices. Music publishing companies expect people to pay compressed lower quality tracks and albums more than the physical uncompressed CD Audio release which is just plain stupid.
    So far they have been able to sell more and more yes.. but there were no streaming services …
    Now some people are moving to the lame free streaming services.. for even worse quality.. obviously as soon as those services will stop being free just like the previous ones did in the past years then people will move back to iTunes… HOWEVER.. prices on iTunes are too high!
    A single track should cost $0.30 at most! And full albums in the $6 range.