Farewell, iTunes’ free “Single of the Week,” and thanks for what once seemed like such a good deal–and is now just a bunch of forgotten files taking up room on our hard drives.
In addition to the millions of songs for sale in iTunes, Apple also used to offer a free track to download each week. Apple has been offering it since 2004, and occasionally even offered different free songs across different genres. But the free single disappeared from iTunes at the start of 2015, and looks to be gone for good.
Why? The company has made no official statement about ending the program, but Business Insider is pointing to an Apple forum post where a user seems to have confirmed the change with an Apple employee. And we can take a good guess about Apple’s reasoning: The free download had become a relic of a bygone music-consumption era.
But free music? In our new streaming era, that’s here to stay. Where the “Single of the Week” typically showed up in iTunes, Apple is currently promoting a iTunes Radio free stream of The Decemberists’ new album. Perhaps this is Apple’s way of telling downloaders that it’s time to update their habits. And Apple has the incentive to do this: Apple bought Beats Music last year, an indication that it will be making a big push to streaming this year–possibly even rebranding Beats Music as iTunes.