Back in the day you had to go to a store to buy music. Now, with the advent of the internet, alternative options have become readily available. Most prominent amongst these is iTunes, Apple’s digital music store and management system. Since it first debut in 2001, iTunes has radically changed music.
The first thing you should know is that iTunes did not start out as a music store. The very first iTunes was, quite simply, a music managing device. It allowed you to manage all your music, rip CDs, and create playlists all from one program. And, compared to the other music managing programs, it was downright sexy. Steve Jobs said as much at the unveiling of iTunes in 2001 (using different words though). And he was right. The music managing programs of the day were, in general, ugly and complicated.
Bellow you can see how iTunes has morphed over the years. It all started out with iTunes 1. You may notice that Steve Jobs was right, the interface was nice and simple. With iTunes 4 the music store was released. This is the main thing that revolutionized the music industry. And now we have iTunes 10, which, I might add, is a player I use extensively.
In 2004, when the music store was released, someone looking to get music off the internet had limited options. Napster existed but, as you may well know, it was distributing content illegally. Rhapsody existed. But it was a streaming service. You had to pay a fee on top of your subscription to download the music and listen to it offline.
That’s why Apple decided to make this store. But it wasn’t that simple. They had to get the approval of the record companies. They enlisted the help of “The Big Five” labels (Sony, EMI, BMG, Warner Music, and Universal). They managed to negotiate deals with all of these companies.
Now the iTunes music store is much bigger then it was them. It has close to 15,000,000 songs. Someone recently bought the 1o billionth song, and millions more are being bought every day.
This has changed the world. That cannot be debated. I really like iTunes and the iTunes store. What better way to get my music then instantly.
But the biggest change that iTunes has brought to music is what I call the “getting it out there” factor. Back in the day, you couldn’t really get major distribution for your music unless you were licensed by a big record company. Now, anyone can get on iTunes, including all of the little record companies that couldn’t get good distribution before. This has been great for smaller companies. Although, I will say, a lot of people are still waiting for AC/DC.
iTunes has fundamentaly changed the way we get and use our music. I think many people are thankful for it. I know I am. How about you?