Apple to Reportedly Fold Beats Into iTunes as Music Download Sales Continue Slide

With digital downloads in iTunes on a steady decline in 2014, Apple is setting its sights on streaming as it looks to revamp the recently acquired Beats Music service. According to the Wall Street Journal, which sites a "person familiar with the matter," Apple plans to relaunch Beats as part of iTunes next year. That's in line with last month's assertion by Apple that it could make "changes" to Beats -- including the brand name, presumably -- and not shut it down entirely.

Apple acquired Beats Music and its namesake headphones manufacturer for $3 billion in a deal finalized in August, as the company looks to compete with Spotify, Pandora and other leading streaming services. The tech company is reportedly negotiating with major labels to lower their licensing rates on streams, allowing Apple to move its new streaming service's monthly price below $10 per month.

The Cuppertino, Calif.-based company has good reason to focus more on streaming, with the Journal also reporting that sales in the iTunes Store has fallen between 13-14 percent worldwide in 2014. Global revenue from downloads only fell 2.1 percent in 2013, according to IFPI. Beats and Apple did not respond to requests for comment at press time.

Even with digital music downloads waning, Apple reported last week that third-quarter sales within its iTunes unit were at $4.6 billion, up from $4.3 billion in the same quarter a year ago. Apple did not disclose how much of that figure is music sales.

Apple refused to comment. Beats did not respond to a request for comment at press time.