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Is Apple Music the Same as iTunes?

Is Apple Music the Same as iTunes

In today’s digital age, Apple stands as one of the giants in the entertainment industry. With products ranging from gadgets to software, Apple is continuously evolving its offerings. Two products that have often caused confusion among users are Apple Music and iTunes. A question that frequently arises is, “Is Apple Music the same as iTunes?” While they both hail from the same company and deal with music and entertainment, they serve different purposes. Let’s delve deeper to uncover the nuances and similarities between the two.

Is iTunes the Same as Apple Music?

In the digital realm of Apple, iTunes was the precursor, the origin of Apple’s music journey, whereas Apple Music is the modern iteration. When answering the question, “Is iTunes the same as Apple Music?”, it’s essential to understand their primary functionalities:

  • Purpose: iTunes was primarily designed as a media player and organizer. It later expanded to become a storefront for purchasing and downloading digital music, movies, and more. On the other hand, Apple Music is purely a music streaming service.
  • Ownership vs. Access: With iTunes, when you purchase a song or album, you own it. It’s yours, even if you decide to end any association with Apple. In contrast, Apple Music offers access. While you have a subscription, you can stream any song in its vast library, but you don’t own these songs. If you end your subscription, access to these songs disappears.
  • Library Size: Apple Music, being a streaming service, boasts a library of over 70 million songs. iTunes, as a store, had a vast collection too, but users could only access songs they had purchased or added from CDs.
  • Payment Model: iTunes operates on a pay-per-item model. Whether it’s a song, album, or movie, you pay for what you purchase. Apple Music, however, runs on a subscription model where you pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to its entire music library.

By understanding these distinctions, it’s clear that while iTunes and Apple Music are interconnected in Apple’s musical ecosystem, they aren’t the same. They serve different needs and purposes within the world of digital entertainment.

Difference Between iTunes and Apple Music

With the evolution of how we consume music and other media, Apple has introduced multiple platforms to cater to shifting consumer habits. iTunes and Apple Music, while interconnected in Apple’s ecosystem, offer different services. To clarify the question, “Is Apple Music the same as iTunes?”, let’s dissect their primary differences:

  1. Nature of Service:
    • iTunes: Started as a media player and organizer, but with time, it evolved into a comprehensive digital store. It allows users to purchase and download songs, albums, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and more.
    • Apple Music: This is a subscription-based music streaming service. Subscribers pay a monthly fee to gain unlimited access to a massive music library, curated playlists, radio stations, and music videos.
  2. Ownership:
    • iTunes: When you purchase from iTunes, you’re buying a digital copy, meaning you own that song or album. Once bought, it’s yours to keep, even if you stop using iTunes.
    • Apple Music: It operates on a rental model. You have access to songs as long as you maintain your subscription. If you cancel, you lose access, even if you’ve downloaded tracks for offline listening.
  3. Cost Structure:
    • iTunes: Operates on a pay-as-you-go model. You pay for individual items that you wish to own.
    • Apple Music: Charges a monthly fee, granting users access to its entire music and video catalog.
  4. Library Management:
    • iTunes: Users can add songs from CDs, purchase tracks from the iTunes Store, or add songs from other sources. It provides a personal library where everything is owned by the user.
    • Apple Music: While users can download songs for offline listening, these tracks are part of the subscription. The focus here is on streaming, not ownership.
  5. Integration with Other Apple Services:
    • iTunes: Integrates closely with devices like iPods and early iPhones. It also syncs with iCloud, allowing purchased media to be shared across Apple devices.
    • Apple Music: Offers seamless integration with the iCloud Music Library, allowing users to combine their personal library with Apple Music’s vast catalog. It’s also deeply integrated with Siri, enabling voice-activated song requests and playback controls.
  6. User Experience:
    • iTunes: Has a broader focus as it deals with various media types (music, movies, TV shows, podcasts). The user interface, especially in the later versions, became dense with features.
    • Apple Music: Provides a streamlined experience focusing only on music and music videos. It offers curated playlists, radio shows, and a ‘For You’ section tailored to individual tastes.

Understanding these differences can help users decide which platform best suits their needs. Whether you prefer the tangible sense of ownership with iTunes or the vast streaming access of Apple Music, Apple caters to both preferences.

Comparison between Apple Music and iTunes

When diving into the Apple universe, it’s easy to see how Apple Music and iTunes might be confusing for some users, given their intertwining histories and functionalities. Both platforms have been central to how Apple users access and enjoy music. In this section, we’ll provide a side-by-side comparison between Apple Music and iTunes to help distinguish their features and offerings.

Feature/Aspect Apple Music iTunes
Primary Function Streaming service Digital media player and store
Cost Model Subscription-based (Monthly fee) Purchase model (Pay for each song, album, or other media)
Ownership Access to music with active subscription Once purchased, users own the song or media forever
Content Type Music tracks, music videos, curated playlists, and radio stations Music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, audiobooks
Offline Access Songs can be downloaded for offline listening but need active subscription Once purchased, content can be accessed offline permanently
Library Size Over 70 million songs and counting Depends on individual’s purchases and personal library additions
Personal Collection Can integrate personal library via iCloud Music Library Primary platform for personal collections, including CD imports
Device Integration Seamless integration with modern Apple devices and Siri Pioneering integration with devices like iPods, early iPhones, and synced with other Apple services
Customization Offers “For You” recommendations based on listening habits User organizes content as preferred, with features like playlists and smart playlists
Updates & Evolution Regular updates focusing on enhanced user experience and added content Evolved over time, but was eventually phased out in favor of separate apps for music, TV, and podcasts


While the table above provides a concise comparison between Apple Music and iTunes, it’s crucial to appreciate the historical context. iTunes was revolutionary during its prime, providing users a unique platform to buy, organize, and listen to digital music. With shifts in the digital music landscape, streaming emerged as the dominant mode of consumption, prompting Apple to introduce Apple Music.

The key takeaway is understanding that while both platforms intersect in the domain of music and entertainment, their core offerings are distinct. Apple Music focuses on vast access and streaming, whereas iTunes was centered around ownership and organization of personal digital media.

Why Did Apple Discontinue iTunes?

As of 2019, after nearly two decades of being a staple in digital music consumption and media management, Apple decided to phase out iTunes. But why did this iconic software, which once revolutionized the way we bought and listened to music, get discontinued? Here are the primary reasons:

  1. Evolution of Media Consumption: With the rise of streaming services like Spotify, Tidal, and Apple’s own Apple Music, the way people consumed music and other media underwent a massive shift. Users began to favor streaming over owning, seeking access to vast libraries rather than purchasing individual tracks or albums.
  2. Complexity and Bloat: What began as a simple music player had evolved over the years into a multi-faceted tool responsible for a plethora of tasks: music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, syncing devices, backups, and more. This turned iTunes into a behemoth software, often criticized for its sluggishness and complicated user interface.
  3. Separation of Media Types: As the digital media landscape diversified, it made sense to separate various media types into distinct apps. This approach was already in place on iOS and iPadOS, where Music, TV, and Podcasts each had their own dedicated apps.
  4. A Push for Apple Music: Discontinuing iTunes also allowed Apple to push its users towards Apple Music, the company’s subscription-based music streaming service. By doing away with the purchase model of iTunes in favor of the streaming model of Apple Music, Apple aimed to compete more directly with other leading streaming services.
  5. Consistent User Experience Across Devices: On iPhones and iPads, Apple had already split music, TV shows, movies, and podcasts into separate apps. Ending iTunes on Mac ensured a consistent user experience across all Apple devices.
  6. Enhanced Performance: By breaking iTunes into individual apps – Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Podcasts – Apple could optimize each app’s performance and streamline updates. This split led to faster, more efficient apps, each tailored to its specific media type.
  7. The Rise of Cloud and Synchronization: With the growing reliance on iCloud for backing up and synchronizing data across devices, the traditional method of connecting an iPhone or iPod to a computer to sync through iTunes became less relevant.

Can I Still Use iTunes Instead of Apple Music?

Many users who have grown up with or have fond memories of iTunes often ask, “Can I still use iTunes instead of Apple Music?” The relationship between iTunes and Apple Music has been the topic of much discussion since Apple’s announcement about phasing out iTunes. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. iTunes on Older Macs and Windows: If you’re using an older version of macOS (Mojave or earlier) or a Windows PC, iTunes is still available and functional. You can continue to use it to purchase, download, and listen to music, as well as manage your media library.
  2. iTunes Store: Even with the phasing out of iTunes on newer macOS versions, the iTunes Store hasn’t disappeared. It’s still accessible within the Apple Music app on Mac, where users can purchase and download songs or albums, similarly to how they did on iTunes. These purchases are integrated into the user’s library alongside any Apple Music content.
  3. iOS Devices: On iPhones and iPads, the iTunes Store app remains available, allowing users to purchase and download music directly to their devices. This is separate from the Apple Music app.
  4. Backup and Syncing: For those who used iTunes to back up their iOS devices, this functionality has shifted to the Finder on Mac (for macOS Catalina and later). On Windows, iTunes continues to serve this purpose.
  5. Alternative Media Players: If the primary use of iTunes was as a media player and organizer, there are several alternative software options available that offer similar functionality, such as VLC, MusicBee, or Foobar2000.
  6. Transition to Apple Music: If you choose to transition to Apple Music, remember it’s a streaming service. However, you can integrate your purchased or personal music from iTunes into Apple Music, ensuring a merged library.
  7. Reverting Back: Technically, if a user has a backup of an older macOS version, they can revert their Mac back to a state where iTunes was the primary app. However, doing this is complex and might lead to other compatibility issues. It’s not recommended unless you’re confident in managing system software and understand the potential pitfalls.
  8. Support and Updates: It’s essential to realize that while iTunes still functions on older systems and Windows, it won’t receive significant updates or new features, potentially making it less secure and less compatible with newer formats or technologies over time.

In essence, while Apple’s focus has shifted towards Apple Music and away from iTunes, the latter isn’t entirely extinct. For users dedicated to iTunes, there are still ways to use and enjoy it, though with some caveats. However, for those looking forward to embracing new features, innovations, and a vast music library, Apple Music is the way forward.


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