It turns out that the only people in the world who are surprised by the weak start for iTunes Radio are people at Apple who, according to Billboard, are surprised to discover if you offer people a decent, customisable streaming service, they become reluctant to buy:
iTunes Radio, which launched in September with much fanfare, so far only sees about 1%-2% of listeners clicking the buy button, while overall music downloads have been declining upwards of 15%, according to several label executives."Hey, you can come by and pet my kitten whenever you like. Whenever you want, just knock on the door and you can pet my kitten. 24 hours a day. Kittens on demand. Oh... would you like to give me some money and you can take the kitten home? No?"
Perhaps more worrying for Apple than this discovery that people aren't stupid is that, as streaming and other services kick in elsewhere, their importance is waning:
One independent label said that iTunes’s share of the label’s revenue has eroded from more than 70% in 2012 to about 50% today.Apple have, in effect, have had the labels' nipples in clamps since the launch of the iPod - and the labels have squirmed, but they've liked the experience. Now, controlling 50% of the market is still a couple of screws on the clamp, but if that figure keeps falling the majors are going to start shouting their safe word. Without dominance, Apple's relationship with the mainstream music industry is going to change, and not in Apple's favour.
Apple, of course, aren't saying they're flying around in a blind panic, but you know there are frantic meetings going on where iPads are being furiously poked and boxes being thought out of.
For years, other companies dreamed of an iTunes killer. Turns out the might have just waited for natural causes to do their work.