“According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the music service that Google is close to launching will include sharing features via integration with its Google+ platform, which isn’t that surprising, since Google has said the new social network will be part of everything it does. For Apple, however, the new social features in Google’s offering will reinforce what Spotify and other music services have already made obvious: Apple and iTunes are falling behind in the social-music race, which could have significant consequences for the company as the music industry continues to evolve.
By any measure, iTunes is still the 800-pound gorilla of the digital-music industry: More than 10 billion songs have been downloaded since Apple launched the service in 2001, and some record labels and music publishers now get a huge proportion of the revenue they make on their artists from iTunes. By launching the service—along with the iPod, which turned 10 years old on the weekend—Apple effectively reengineered the entire music industry, persuading the major labels to use it as a conduit to reach music lovers who were busy downloading whatever they could get their hands on.
Obviously, that kind of power means iTunes isn’t going away soon, and it will continue to be the main choice for record companies that want to monetize an artist. But the music business is changing—along with virtually every other form of media and content—as a result of the increasingly social nature of the Web. And in that particular race, services such as Spotify are winning, in part because of their integration with networks like Facebook and their focus on streaming over buying.”