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Do Streaming Music Services Make iTunes 11 Obsolete?
By: Greg Dorn
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Earlier in the year, Apple had promised eager iTunes users that a highly anticipated and sorely needed update would arrive by the end of October. As October came and went, the promise was bumped to November. As we waited and waited, it seemed as though Apple once again would fail to deliver. Then, on nearly the last possible day, November 29, the update finally rolled out. The Apple stratosphere let out a collective sigh of relief…at least for the time being. In reality, the update was more of a redesign, adding few truly new features that would woo back the legions of iTunes haters (yes, there are many). 2012 was no doubt the year when streaming music services broke out into the mainstream, led by the U.S. debut of the ever-popular Spotify. So as we look back at a year where streaming music trumped owning music, is iTunes 11 really anything to celebrate?
In reality, there really isn’t a straightforward answer to this question. Whether you prefer to jam out to music you own or stream it through a service is really a matter of preference. Personally, I don’t see what the iTunes haters complain about when listing their countless gripes. Even before the cleaned-up user interface of iTunes 11, it was a great hub for storing and listening to music you owned.
On the other side of the spectrum are the streaming services. Although paid levels of such services like Pandora and Spotify do exist, one can also search and listen to virtually any song or album for free.
Hence, the real question we should be asking is who are the winners here, and who are the losers? The answer undoubtedly points to the users, who come out on top. With a plethora of streaming services out there (it seems as though another one pops up every day), the music lover is presented with a smorgasbord of choices to choose from. And for those who do prefer to own their music, iTunes will always be around.
Of course with every winner, there must be a loser, and currently it’s the streaming music services. The reason is simple: music royalties. Pandora and Spotify might give off the essence of success, but a humongous chunk of their revenue goes straight back to the record companies. Pandora, relying mainly on advertisement, has never had a profitable year. Just last week, the music service shares went tumbling 20%. Spotify has seen similarly unfortunate realities. Chief executive Daniel Ek has gone on record stating that it has paid about 70% of its income to royalties throughout their history.
So while these heavyweights of the streaming game appear to raking in the dough, it’s a different story behind the scenes. But as long as such services keep running, which they will, the music lover wins. And with Apple continuing to improve their decade-old music service (along with rumors of entering the Internet-radio game themselves), the options are endless. Do streaming-music services make iTunes 11 irrelevant? No. It will only result in Apple stepping up their game and continuing to improve on an already solid product. 

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About the Author
Greg Dorn is a blogger, writer, and obsessed with everything technology and social media. Greg is absolutely captivated with the recent advancements in mobile gadgets, making our world more seamlessly connected. You can learn more about him on his own blog here
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