If you’ve heard that Apple plans to kill off iTunes music downloads within the next few years, don’t believe it.
On Wednesday, Digital Music News, a site that follows the music industry and its executives, said that it had spoken to sources “with close and active business relationships with Apple” who said that the company could kill off iTunes music downloads as early as the end of 2018, or within the next “three to four years.” At that point, the sources claimed, music downloads would be an “afterthought,” making the transition easier on consumers.
However, an Apple (AAPL) spokesperson confirmed to Fortune on Thursday that the claims made by Digital Music News are not true. The spokesperson didn’t say exactly what Apple’s plans are, however, for the future.
Recode earlier reported on the disagreement.
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While Apple might not be ready to nix iTunes music downloads, the report comes at a time when the music market is in a state of flux. While digital music has been somewhat popular for two decades, much of it at the onset was being pirated on a wide range of services and physical CD sales reigned supreme. Apple hoped to make legitimate digital downloads popular and by the mid-2000s, started to make a dent in physical sales. Now, song downloads are very much a part of the average music listener’s life.
Indeed, Drake launched his album Views recently to both Apple Music, the company’s streaming platform, and iTunes. Within 24 hours, the wildly popular musician sold 632,000 copies of his new album. Within five days, he had notched one million album sales on iTunes. Beyoncé’s latest album Lemonade launched only as a paid, downloadable album on iTunes. The artist kept the streaming rights on Tidal, the platform she co-owns with husband Jay-Z, among other artists.
That comes amid a broader industry push to find its way through an increasingly sophisticated music world, where physical albums are still available, digital downloads deliver significant revenue, and streaming is becoming increasingly important. Apple stands at the epicenter of that, providing the most prominent digital-download marketplace and acting as one of the leaders in streaming.
Still, most analysts argue that listeners will eventually move to streaming. Indeed, one could argue that companies like Apple have even encouraged such a move: For just a $9.99-per-month membership, Apple Music users can not only stream any track they want, but also listen to any of the songs they would otherwise have to buy on iTunes. That alone makes the idea of Apple one day not needing iTunes downloads plausible.
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It becomes even more plausible when one considers that music download revenue has seemingly reached its peak. Last year, streaming music revenue outpaced download revenue in the U.S. by nearly $100 million, notching $2.4 billion in total revenue, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. Download revenue last year reached $2.3 billion, down more than $500 million compared to 2013’s $2.8 billion in revenue.
While it’s unknown what percentage of Apple’s revenue iTunes has helped to generate—the company doesn’t break out its revenue figures—it’s likely a large chunk of downloads, suggesting neither Apple nor the music industry have interest in seeing iTunes go away anytime soon. The data also suggests, though, that Apple and the industry might see more value in streaming as time goes on.
But for now at least, your desire to download is safe.