Idris Elba

Idris Elba attends the W Magazine celebration of The "Best Performances" Portfolio and The Golden Globes with Cadillac and Dom Perignon at Chateau Marmont on January 9, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. 

John Sciulli/Getty Images for W Magazine

In a world where digital music sales are hurting, Apple may have just inadvertently created a new reason for people to skip the iTunes store. As some have pointed out, the free "Single of the Week" promotion has been absent from the store all year, fueling speculation that it has been discontinued.

Commenters from Britain, Italy and Australia have noted the promotion's absence in an iTunes support forum, and one user claims to have confirmed with Apple that it has been officially sunsetted.

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

Related

A common complaint in the forum is that the free single was actually an effective incentive in bringing users to the store each week. Some say that without that entry point, they may not have made subsequent purchases.

"The free single of the week was the only reason I ever visited the iTunes Store," a user named Kymba36 wrote. "Like others, I usually ended up buying other songs and videos. Now I have no reason to ever visit there again.  I can, and will, get my songs and videos elsewhere.  Adios, Apple."

Added another unsatisfied customer, "If the single of the week is gone then I have zero reason to browse the store any longer."

The "Single of the Week" has been an iTunes staple since 2004 and featured a mix of emerging and well-known artists. In the U.K., some of the last entries included songs by actor Idris Elba, Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde and English singer-songwriter Rae Morris. Not surprisingly, artists and their labels would spend their time in the spotlight promoting the song to fans on social media.

The possible demise of "Single of the Week" follows Apple's cancellation of the "12 Days of Christmas" promotion, which for six years offered free books, movies and music right after Christmas.