Apple Music and changes to iTunes Affiliate urls

When Apple released Apple Music, they made a small change to the way their iTunes affiliate program worked.

Previously, any url that linked to some iTunes content, would always open iTunes itself.

After Apple Music, only urls with the app=itunes parameter would do this. Older style urls, ones without this parameter now open Apple Music by default.

Oh very sneaky Apple. We see what you did there.

Our app MTV Trax allows users to buy any track they would like to keep. And for a few months, our buy buttons would direct our lovely users to a competing service. To a competing service!

Very sneaky.

The changes were documented here although I'm not sure how well it was publicised.

If you are picky about where your users go after tapping on a buy link, you might want to reexamine your links.

Example

For instance

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/cool-for-the-summer-single/id1013069897?app=music

will take your user to Apple Music where they can stream the song, while

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/cool-for-the-summer-single/id1013069897?app=itunes

takes you to the iTunes Store where you can buy the song.

How much do I earn?

In both cases you'll still be paid by Apple for sending users their way, although even here it has change.

For iTunes redirects, an affiliate member earns 7% of any sales within 24hrs on iTunes.

For Apple Music redirects, an affiliate member earns a one-off $5 fee, if the user purchases/renews their subscription.

Back of the envelope calculates suggest that if your user spends more than $70 on iTunes you are better off sending them to iTunes.

Summary

It seems like a no brainer to always redirect to iTunes.

For one, iTunes redirects always earn commission unlike the Apple Music one-off payment. An iTunes redirect commission is also paid on all purchases made, not just the item you linked to. Movies, TV shows, books and games are included.

Lastly, you only get paid by Apple if, and that's a big if, the user subscribes at the end of their trial.

My advise?

Don't feed the Apple Music monster.

Send your users to iTunes and receive a little more cash in return.

Further reading