Label executives claim that iTunes download sales have fallen 15 percent over the past year. One indie label tells Billboard that Apple's online store has gone from accounting for 70 percent of its sales in 2012 to just 50 percent now.
The Day the Music (Download) Died
Folks aren't buying music anymore. CD sales peaked more than a decade ago, and downloads seem to have topped out a few years ago. Fans are still passionate about favorite artists, but they embrace premium and ad-supported streaming services over actual ownership. In this age of growing mobile connectivity, why buy a song when you can have access to millions of tunes served off the cloud?
Spotify has lined up millions of subscribers worldwide, paying $10 a month for on-demand access to its growing catalog. Penny pinchers can settle for Pandora Media (P) where they can't pick out specific tracks to hear, but they do get customized playlists based on their preferences. There are 75.3 million active Pandora listeners, and 3.3 million of those pay $4 a month for ad-free access with broader freedom to skip through the tracks you don't want to hear. And people use YouTube as a video jukebox.
Apple last year tried to make up for lost time by rolling out its own streaming platform, but record execs tell Billboard that less than 2 percent of iTunes Radio users are going on to buy music.
The Androids Have Landed
Apple's success with its iTunes Music Store came when it was the category leader. No portable media player ever challenged the iPod for supremacy. The iPhone and then the iPad went on to lead the consumer smartphone and tablet categories, respectively.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Times have changed. Google's (GOOG) Android has been the market leader for years, and more recently we saw Apple's iPad lose the top spot to the growing assortment of Android tablets.
Android, according to industry tracker Gartner, now accounts for 38 percent of all devices shipped worldwide last year. Apple's iOS is down a little more than 10 percent.
Will Apple introduce iTunes for Android? After making a splash with the ad-supported iTunes Radio that is similar to Pandora, is the next step to take on Spotify with a premium on-demand service of its own? Others speculate that it will use its thinning clout with the record labels to demand exclusive content so music fans would have no choice but to go through iTunes. Yet that's something that will be a lot easier to accomplish if iTunes expands to Android devices first. Apple decline to comment to Billboard.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Google (C shares) and Pandora Media. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google (C shares) and Pandora Media.
8 Foolproof Ways to Grow Your Savings
ITunes Store Gets Old - So What Will Apple Do?
This is my personal favorite! Think of yourself as a regular monthly bill you have to pay. All you have to do is arrange to have a set amount of money directly deposited from your paycheck into a savings account each month.
I recommend using a separate savings account because if you have access to your funds in your checking account, you're more likely to spend them. Again, it might hurt a bit at first to take home a little less every month, but trust me, after a while you won't even notice it's gone. Here's a moment when the "set it and forget it" strategy works wonders.
It feels great to be rewarded for your hard work. And it feels even better to spend that hard-earned bonus on something you’ll enjoy, like a trip to France or an iPad. At the same time, the pleasure of a vacation or new gadget is short-lived compared to financial security.
So make a pact with yourself to put every bonus you get from here on out to good use. If you direct 90 percent of your bonuses straight into your savings account as a rule, you’ll still have 10 percent to treat yourself with (plus the comfort of knowing that you're building a well-earned safety net). I live by this rule.
OK, OK, this seems like an obvious one -- and easier said than done. Actually, most people spend money on more unnecessary items than they think. So take time to look at where your money is going in detail and begin to cut back. Saving $10 here and there could help you put a lot away in the long run.
Many banks offer seasonal accounts meant to save for holidays like Christmas. These accounts give you reduced access to your accounts, charging a hefty penalty each time you withdraw more than permitted. Since emergencies don't occur often, a seasonal account could make sure you're touching it only when needed (just make sure you're not tempted to blow it all on Christmas gifts).
I love this one. Chalk it up to my massive craving for organization, but I'm all about getting rid of things I no longer use. Rather than throwing these unused goods away, start selling them, and put that money into your emergency fund. All you need to do is post them to a site like eBay or Craigslist or Amazon and you can get rid of items from the comfort of your home. You can also take your clothes to a consignment shop to have them sold for you.
Instead of saving your pennies, put aside any $5 bills that come your way. Never spend a $5 bill again, and you'll be surprised by how quickly this silly trick will help you come up with a few hundred dollars to add to an emergency fund.
You could pick up odd jobs via websites like TaskRabbit.com, DoMyStuff.com, Elance.com, FreelanceSwitch.com or Sitters.com.
If you get a cash-back reward for any spending on your credit card, just make it a rule that those dollars will be dedicated to your freedom fund. It may only add up to $100 extra each year, depending on your spending, but every little bit counts.