Why can’t you download music on Apple Music anymore?

Apple Music used to allow users to download songs for offline listening, but recently removed this feature. This has left many wondering why Apple got rid of music downloads on their streaming service.

The Shift Towards Streaming

The main reason Apple removed the download feature is because of the industry’s shift towards music streaming. Downloading songs to own them does not align with the streaming model of accessing music. With streaming services like Apple Music, users pay a monthly fee to access millions of songs but do not actually own any of the music. The focus is on the convenience of instantly streaming songs rather than collecting music to own.

Apple sees music streaming as the future and wants to fully embrace this model. By removing music downloads, Apple is nudging users towards streaming only. While users previously had the option to stream or download, now streaming is the only option for Apple Music subscribers. This means users cannot store songs locally or access their music library if they ever unsubscribe from the service. The music catalogue stays with Apple as users pay to access it monthly.

Shift in Consumer Preferences

Another major reason is that consumer listening preferences have shifted towards streaming. Music streaming revenue has grown rapidly in recent years while music downloads have declined. In 2017, streaming became the dominant form of music consumption in the US for the first time ever. With streaming’s growth and downloads’ decline, Apple is simply adapting to where the market is headed.

Younger generations especially have adopted streaming as their main way of listening to music. With streaming’s convenience and access to vast catalogues, downloading individual songs to own has become less appealing to many consumers. Apple is catering towards mainstream listening preferences by doing away with music downloads and focusing on improving its streaming service.

Challenges of Maintaining Downloads

Providing both music downloads and streaming on one service poses some challenges as well. Apple has to devote resources towards maintaining and updating two different systems. As streaming grows more dominant, dedicating resources towards download infrastructure makes less financial sense.

Music downloads also do not drive recurring revenue like subscription streaming does. One-time downloads only earn Apple money upfront while streaming subscriptions provide recurring monthly revenue. From a business perspective, focusing on driving streaming subscriptions will be more lucrative over the long term.

Downloadable music also creates user experience challenges. Any downloaded music would need to seamlessly integrate with Apple’s streaming catalogue and be accessible from the same app. Splitting user libraries between downloaded and streamed content can be confusing and potentially frustrating for users. Removing downloads helps create a more unified user experience focused entirely on streaming.

Licensing Restrictions

Apple’s licensing deals with record labels and publishers may also restrict how downloadable music can be provided alongside streaming. The rights Apple has secured for its streaming service may not include the same permissions for permanent music downloads. Restrictions in these deals likely factored into Apple’s decision to remove the ability to download from Apple Music.

Record labels and artists may also prefer downloads to be unavailable on streaming services. Purchasing and downloading individual songs provides more revenue than streaming a song hundreds of times. Downloads also do not cannibalize physical music sales as much. Removing the download option on Apple Music makes it more likely users will purchase downloads separately through iTunes instead of streaming songs they want to own.

Push Towards Apple One Bundles

Lastly, Apple removing music downloads helps push users towards its Apple One subscription bundles. Bundling Apple Music with other services makes the streaming option even more enticing and encourages users to subscribe monthly rather than purchase individual songs and albums. The Apple One bundles help keep users locked into Apple’s ecosystems with recurring subscription revenue across multiple services.

For Apple, steering consumers away from one-time music purchases and towards recurring payments for bundled services is clearly part of their overall strategy. Removing downloads from Apple Music serves this bundling strategy well.

Impact on Users

The disappearance of the download feature on Apple Music has varying impacts for users depending on their listening habits.

For those who prefer streaming, the change may have little effect. Users who stream most of their music and rarely download songs will not be impacted. The streaming experience remains unchanged.

However, high-volume downloaders are most affected. Users who liked to purchase and download albums or songs to own can no longer do this on Apple Music. Downloading for offline listening when internet connectivity is limited is also no longer possible.

Former downloaders now need to look to alternate sources if they want to build owned music libraries. Purchasing downloads through iTunes is still an option, but not saving songs directly from the Apple Music app. For offline listening, users may need to turn to alternative solutions like pre-downloading playlists before trips.

Users who care about music ownership are impacted the most. Apple Music subscribers can no longer accumulate owned music downloads over time through the service. Those wanting to collect and own music long-term will need to spend money purchasing downloads outside Apple Music instead.

Workarounds for Downloading Music

While Apple Music no longer allows downloading songs, there are some workarounds users have found to still get music downloads from the service.

Use AudFree Apple Music Converter

One popular workaround is using a program like AudFree Apple Music Converter. This software can record and convert Apple Music streams into DRM-free audio files like MP3 that can be played anywhere. Users can download converted files to their computer and essentially get downloads of Apple Music songs.

AudFree works by recording music as it streams from Apple Music using virtual audio drivers. It then converts the streams into common formats freed from Apple’s DRM restrictions. The program costs $34.95 for a lifetime license but enables downloading music from Apple Music even without native support.

Use a Third-Party App

Another workaround is using a third-party iOS app that provides music downloading. Apps like Documents 6 and Cesium can connect to an Apple Music account and download songs for offline listening. Songs are saved within the third-party apps themselves rather than Apple Music.

These apps leverage Apple Music’s APIs and service integrations to enable music downloads. So they provide a way to get downloads on iOS devices. However, Apple may limit this workaround in the future by disallowing third-party apps to download from its service.

Save Songs Before Closing App

Some users report being able to quickly save an Apple Music song for offline listening before fully closing the app. Songs reportedly stay available in the app’s downloads tab using this method. But it is an inconsistent workaround that does not work for many.

Apple still has offline listening capabilities built into Apple Music. This workaround hijacks that feature to download songs. But it only works occasionally and songs may get deleted. Not a fully reliable solution.

Use a Music Convert Website

Websites like Ytmp3 allow users to input an Apple Music link and download the song as an MP3. These streaming ripping sites can generate downloads from Apple Music tracks.

However, convert websites have inconsistent results and can be slow. They also raise legal issues due to copyright infringement. Not an ideal solution for most users.

Can Downloads Come Back?

Apple has given no indication that permanent downloads will return to Apple Music. The company seems intent on fully transitioning the service to a streaming-only model.

However, Apple does occasionally reverse unpopular decisions in response to customer feedback. So there is a small chance downloads could be added again if enough users demand it.

Some analysts speculate Apple may bundle limited music downloads into higher cost Apple Music subscriptions in the future. For example, the highest $19.99 family plan tier could include a set number of downloads per month. This would appeal to diehard downloaders willing to pay more.

Overall though, the trend towards streaming dominance makes permanent music downloads unlikely to ever return to Apple Music. Users wanting to download songs for offline listening or ownership will need to look beyond Apple’s native apps and services.


Apple Music removed its music download feature as streaming became the dominant listener preference. Shifting towards an all-streaming model makes financial and strategic sense for Apple. But it inconveniences parts of Apple Music’s user base – especially download enthusiasts.

Users who want to continue downloading songs have some workarounds. But Apple has made clear downloads are not part of their vision for Apple Music anymore. The service will focus solely on streaming going forward with no download option built-in.

The music industry’s pivot to streaming-first consumption has led Apple to remove downloaded music ownership from its services. For the foreseeable future, Apple Music will drive listeners towards access-based streaming rather than collecting permanent music libraries.