Apple reportedly considering “dramatic overhaul” of iTunes to help fight rising competition


Billboard has a report out today claiming Apple is considering “the most dramatic overhaul of its iTunes music store in more than a decade” due to lack of traction with its new iTunes Radio service launched in September of last year.

According to the report, which cites executives close to the project at Apple, some of things Apple is considering include new types of on-demand streaming services and “negotiating download sales windows that favor Apple.” It also mentioned the possibility of an iTunes store for Android devices, something the publication has reported previously. 

What direction Apple will take iTunes, however, is still reportedly up for debate within the company. The report cites various record label executives unhappy with iTunes Radio’s “lack of success” and others that have witnessed the share of revenue from iTunes vs competitors drop in recent years.

How Apple transforms iTunes, however, remains hotly debated, both within the company and among Apple’s content partners, sources say. Apple’s desire for a smooth transition is complicated by an urgency that iTunes must move quickly as people move away from downloads, where Apple controls 90% of download music sales in the U.S., towards streaming, where Apple is overshadowed.

“iTunes Radio hasn’t solved the problem of refreshing the iTunes store,” said a senior label executive. “While listeners are clicking the buy buttons, the traffic it is driving is in the low single digits of listeners.” iTunes Radio’s “lack of success,” another executive said, “is driving the types of conversations they are having. They know iTunes has to change radically, but they still don’t know which way it will go. But it will be completely different in three to five years. They are committed to making that happen.”

Last month we reported that Apple was considering moving its iTunes Radio service from a tab within the iOS music app into its own standalone app in iOS 8 in an attempt to boost usage. As mentioned again in its report today, Billboard previously reported that Apple was considering launching an iTunes Store app for Android users to help it combat declining music sales.

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  1. Johnny Lippeatt - 9 years ago

    Well it would be great if it would include Apple TV with it.

    • Ethan Morgan (@duepeak) - 9 years ago

      You mean if iTunes Radio was on the Apple TV? It is.

    • Johnny Lippeatt - 9 years ago

      No I mean opening up Apple TV to Subscriptions for TV Shows and Movies.

      • WaveMedia (@WaveMedia) - 9 years ago

        It technically already is, you can buy season passes on iTunes and rent movies.

    • Johnny Lippeatt - 9 years ago

      Really? Well then I’m just throwing away $8 on Hulu guess I better cancel that.

      • Matt Ackeret (@mattack1) - 9 years ago

        Hulu has commercials. iTunes purchases/rentals don’t.

      • Johnny Lippeatt - 9 years ago

        Yes and Directv is $100 a month. Your point? I have Amazon Prime also but prefer the Apple TV. I don’t mind ads especially if they are tailored to my likes. I want channels. NBC does Airplay now but an App on the TV is better.

    • Johnny Lippeatt - 9 years ago

      Yes and Directv is $100 a month. Your point? I have Amazon Prime also but prefer the Apple TV. I don’t mind ads especially if they are tailored to my likes. I want channels. NBC does Airplay now but an App on the TV is better.

    • Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

      What, a free Apple TV with every download of iTunes? Try reading the thread.

  2. crichton007 - 9 years ago

    The last I heard iTunes radio was in 3rd place in it’s first report after existence. Isn’t that pretty good? I know I’d listen more if I could separate the ability to stream iTunes Radio over cellular without having to enable the iTuns store access to cellular as well. :-(

  3. themis333 - 9 years ago

    This is something a lot of people have been begging for, for a while now.

  4. If the overhaul means streaming, I’m all for it.

  5. danbridgland - 9 years ago

    Rolling out iTunes Radio to more countries would be a good start. What’s taking them so long! It’s a joke!!!

    • WaveMedia (@WaveMedia) - 9 years ago

      Blame the record labels. They hold all the power in these kind of arrangements. It took them a good while to get iTunes Match in places outside the US too for the same reasons. Music owned by company A in the USA may be owned by company B in say the UK, and company C in Japan. It’s a mess.

  6. Andrew Watson - 9 years ago

    I want iTunes radio, it’s just that… I want it to be Spotify. Spotify (for me) is perfect.

    • WaveMedia (@WaveMedia) - 9 years ago

      Just use Spotify then if it’s perfect for you. Why demand something else be exactly the same when what you want exists already?

      • Not the person to whom you were replying… but I feel the same way he does.

        I currently use Rdio but would drop it in a heartbeat if iTunes Radio offered on demand music. Why? Because I’m in an Apple ecosystem and it would be more seamless. I’d love to be able to play my music over my Apple TV without having to AirPlay it.

        Don’t get me wrong, AirPlaying Rdio to the Apple TV is fine for now. But if I could do it all without an extra app on my computer, an extra app on my phone/tablet… it’d just simplify things a bit.

      • robertvarga79 - 9 years ago

        To have everything possible from the same company, within their ecosystem! It actually makes sense

  7. Cory © (@Nardes) - 9 years ago

    They need more diversity in Radio. Example:

    I have an Andrew McMahon station… I have also linked it with a Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin station (his two previous bands). It has the ability to pull from 3 separate projects and I will always get the same set of songs every time I play the station. Out of the first 10 songs played I can tell you 3 will be the same songs that always get played.

    • Zac Hall - 9 years ago

      Good bands, saw McMahon in concert last year.

  8. Nicolas Martin - 9 years ago

    Everything to push sales, little to improve user experience. That’s been Apple’s policy with iTunes for too long. Competition for Mac music play would be delightful, but so very unlikely when dealing with the sequestered Apple world.

    • WaveMedia (@WaveMedia) - 9 years ago

      They’re working at the behest of the record labels who keep demanding more of them to improve sales, even though they’re already making ungodly amounts of money. It’s no secret that record company execs are greedy buggers.

  9. michaelg379 - 9 years ago

    Android is misspelled the first time it’s written in the article.

  10. Daniel L. Lau - 9 years ago

    It looks like I’m in the minority, but as a huge Apple fan, I’ve always felt like iRadio was to iTunes what MobileMe was to OS X. Sure I get basic Pandora like functionality, but I don’t feel especially pleased with the experience that I would abandon traditional radio outlets. I think I would be open to any overhaul at this point.

  11. Jerry Donel - 9 years ago

    iTunes certainly needs a “dramatic overhaul” — I have never been more disappointed in an Apple product! iTunes Radio is a JOKE, compared to the other offerings such as Pandora. Pandora makes sense; iTunes Radio makes NO SENSE. And whoever chooses the selections offered needs to learn something about real music and stop pandering to nonexistent hip-hoppers!

  12. Rob Smithson - 9 years ago

    while they are at it, could they realize how horribly they have implemented iTunes Match between the desktop and iDevices and get that sequestered with iTunes Radio? It has completely ruined the Music app!

  13. Steve Bolton - 9 years ago

    Here in the UK iTunes music is more expensive than Amazon.
    example: Now That’s What I Call Music! 87 – iTunes £13.99, Amazon £9.99

  14. Josh Mobley - 9 years ago

    I never understood why iTunes Radio was just a music discovery service. Perhaps it was the labels that denied apple to stream playlists and albums outright. Apple has an opportunity to crush spotify with its own identical service if it doesn’t buy them outright.

  15. godrifle - 9 years ago

    I would prefer that Apple fully integrate the media I own and serve via iTunes to my other Apple Devices with the content I can purchase from Apple. Presently, separating out “Computer” content from all other content is a hassle with no real value. Give me content categories, like “Music” or “Movies” that co-mingle all content of that type, please!

  16. Chris Basten - 9 years ago

    They could pretty it up and make it less of a pig to use in Windows

  17. John Lancer - 9 years ago

    I think iTunes is in decline because of it’s proprietary nature. When iTunes started it was open to other platforms like windows and still is on windows. I think it had an halo effect for apple much like the iPad and iPhone where people trusted apple again. Think about it i don’t think iPods would have been much of a success if it could only be synced and operated with a mac. If they would make iTunes for windows phone and android that would fix the problem. Amazon and google don’t care where the software is along as they make money on it. Thats why i use the kindle app over ibooks. ibooks is awful because you can not get your stuff off the ibooks eco system. I can pull kindle books on any device. If iTunes would loosen up and allow that they can still make money even on the people who have not encountered the apple ecosystem. If this change is not made soon iTunes will lose its market. I have no doubt that iTunes would become the #1 music service on both windows phone and android.

  18. broblk - 8 years ago

    1/1 1:27:55 Brian Eno Ambient 1: Music for Airports Electronica
    this is actually a radio play by the BBC … no music involved …
    Seems iTunes is as reliable as Apple’s Maps what a pos


Avatar for Jordan Kahn Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.