At the risk of fueling the fire, Apple has now responded to our Wednesday report relating to a near-term shutdown of its iTunes music download offering.
The denial represents a rare move for a company that almost never responds to media inquiries. Instead, Apple prefers to deliver media information via carefully-worded press releases, statements, and events, with direct conversations with journalists almost unheard of.
“Our response is that it is not true, we are not shutting down iTunes downloads per your story yesterday,” Apple media executive Tom Neumayr flatly told Digital Music News.
“[The labels] don’t want the rug ripped out from under them.”
Meanwhile, sources that we could re-contact early this morning stood by their accounts. One noted that Apple is almost certainly receiving inquiries from labels unhappy with the prospect of losing paid download sales, especially on such an aggressive timetable. “Of course you can imagine, [the labels] don’t want to rug ripped out from under them,” one source relayed.
That extends to artists, many of whom enjoy elevated royalties from paid downloads, despite recent crashes in music download market. Indeed, it’s likely that the ongoing collapse of iTunes music downloads is now wreaking further havoc on delicate label balance sheets, with streaming royalties failing to account for the difference.
Separately, Digital Music News itself is now getting attacked for publishing the story, with comments including accusations of rumor-mongering, fabrication, plagiarism, click-baiting, and Spotify hatred. All of those are from unidentified commenters, and could tie back to the company itself (not to mention rival publications).