In a major sign that the Purchase and Download Era is coming to an end, Apple has confirmed its impending purchase of Beats. While much is made of Beats Electronics' branding, and that investment in such a well established name is a new thing for Apple, it seems that the purchase is more of an admission that iTunes has fallen way behind the game and streaming is where it's at, or at least where it's going to be.
According to the Economist, streaming accounted for 21 percent of music industry revenues last year in the United States, and subscription-based services like Spotify, with a now-estimated 28 million paying customers, enjoyed revenues up 50 percent from 2012. With the proliferation of smartphones and the bolstering of networks and internet speeds, the future of the mainstream music industry is all about mobile, convenience, and seamlessness. Well, that and content.
To that end, Apple CEO Tim Cook—always a master of concision and metaphor—emphasized the inclusion of Dr. Dre and music executive wunderkind Jimmy Iovine, as well as Beats's editorial concern, in the business going forward. “These guys are really unique,” the NYT quoted him as saying. “It’s like finding the precise grain of sand on the beach. They’re rare and very hard to find.”