iTunes Turns Ten, Or How I Blew $150 My First Time
On April 28th, 2003, Apple changed the music industry and, in turn, the world when they released the iTunes Music Store. The store started humbly enough with just 200,000 songs at 99 cents each. In the ten years to follow, billions of songs would be downloaded and the store would grow to contain apps, books, movies, podcasts and television shows. The store is now available in 119 countries across the world and according to this weekâ€™s earning report earned a record-breaking $4 billion in revenue.
Not bad for ten years.
To celebrate this occasion, Apple has set up a special page on iTunes commemorating the many milestones of iTunes during the past decade.
There will be many articles written about iTunes in the next few days, before itâ€™s tenth birthday, each one with the writer telling a story about the lost time before iTunes where listening to music on a computer or compiling a playlist for an MP3 player were difficult chores. The notion of buying this music online, much less buying it so cheaply, was nigh unheard of.
You see children, in those days pirates owned the digital music landscape. Sure, there were ways you could legally download music, but it wasnâ€™t easy. Anyone looking to pay for their music often had to jump through more hoops than those who simply downloaded Napster or Kazaa, typed in â€śMetallicaâ€ť and instantly had their music.
Itâ€™s still this easy to illegally download music, of course, but the conversation has changed. Weâ€™re no longer asking why the music industry has made it so hard to own digital music, now weâ€™re wondering why the entertainment industry is making it so hard to watch movies and television shows.
Like countless others, I, too, have my own story about my first experience with the iTunes Music Store.
A late-comer to the Apple game, I didnâ€™t sign up for an Apple ID and iTunes account until I got my first iPod in 2006.
Itâ€™s a silly thing to be ashamed of, yet here I stand, my finger hovering over the delete key like a vicious tyrant, ready to blast the previous sentence into oblivion.
Iâ€™ll let it rideâ€¦
I had a little extra cash from my computer sales job at a now defunct electronics store, so I cracked open a beer and handed over my credit card information to Appleâ€™s iTunes, willing to just simply let whatever happened happen.
I was a kid in a candy store, a hipster in a pho joint, a proverbial pig in slop. If memory serves, the first album I purchased was â€śThe Great Depressionâ€ť by Blindside.
I was going through a phase.
It was insanely easy to get my music, and that was a problem. With the click of a button and a password later, the music was downloading to my computer. I could put it on my iPod and take it with me, easy as I pleased.
I bought â€śLive from Nowhere, Vol. 1â€ť by Over the Rhine next, then moved on to â€ś11:11â€ť by Maria Taylor. It was at this point that I noticed two things: The list of recommendations based on your buying habits and a strong buzz in my head — the special kind that follows four or five beers. This was when I discovered the album â€śAct II – The Meaning of, and All Things Regarding Ms. Leadingâ€ť by The Dear Hunter, an album I still listen to several times a year.
By the time things became clearer, I had blown through $150 in iTunes charges.
It was all so damned easy.
These days Apple has made buying and managing your music even easier with iCloud and iTunes Match, giving all listeners the ability to go back through the annals of time and revisit some of their more shameful music purchases and keep their libraries with them at all times.
So hereâ€™s to you, iTunes, and your willingness to let a bumbling half-drunk kid peruse your category and throw $150 at you in a night.
Iâ€™ll always respect you for that.
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