Music media shift brings questions

By Wes Terrell

Staff Writer

Music consumers are starting to whistle a different tune when it comes to how they fill their iPods and smartphones. Revenue from downloads fell 2.1 percent in 2013, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. However, a growth in revenue from streaming and subscription services such as Pandora and Spotify made up for the decline in downloads, and there was an “overall digital revenue growth in the majority of markets.”

iTunes is a service that lets users buy music, movies and TV shows digitally. According to a CNN report, “By 2010 iTunes was the largest music retailer on the planet.” With the success of the iPhone, iPod and iTunes, Apple grew into a major music retailer. iTunes brings a vast collection of music to the palm of a consumer’s hand.

The Wall Street Journal reported streaming services, such as Spotify, SoundCloud, Pandora and Google Play Music, are on the rise. Streaming services give users the option to buy a subscription for ad-free access to music or endure the ads for free use. Users pay around $10 a month for unlimited listening and downloading.

This enables users to listen to large amounts of music without handing over their wallets. That is not to say users own the music, because as soon as service is canceled, the music is taken back. That is one advantage for iTunes users – buy it, own it. Or so it seems.

In 2012 CNN released a story on actor Bruce Willis, who wanted to hand his iTunes music collection down to his children. Later, Willis found he did not actually own the music. He only owned the right to listen on an Apple device. This raised a question: When do users own the music they paid for?

Some students find it hard to pay for iTunes after paying bills and everyday life expenses. Brookhaven College student Luis Gutierrez said he thinks iTunes is too expensive. “I have no problem looking music up on YouTube and listening to it,” Gutierrez said.

With new songs being released so often and content only a download away, a credit card can be maxed out with just a few clicks. Brookhaven student Maria Cuevas said, “I would be willing to pay an iTunes subscription at a student discount.”

Streaming services are taking hold because they provide more content at lower prices, which is a big change. As Apple CEO Tim Cook has said of his company: “We are always future-focused.”