Before the advent of iTunes, music wasn’t like that. Buying a song means walking into a brick-and-mortar store and buying a physical record or CD. After the advent of iTunes, that all changed.
Not only does iTunes make it easier for you to find the music you want to listen to, but it also makes it easier for you to buy music. Today, we’re used to digital content marketplaces like the App Store and Google Play Store, but the idea of distributing content entirely centrally online began with iTunes. It helped us transition from the analog world of music to today’s digital music environment.
So, let’s take a look at all the ways iTunes changes music:
1. It Killed the Album
Before iTunes, most music artists and record labels focused on releasing albums, just as they had been doing for decades before. This makes sense. At the time, consumers were still entering music stores, mostly buying physical CDs. As a consumer, if you don’t want to spend money on an entire album, you have to want the song you want to be released as a single, and then buy it.
With iTunes, you no longer have to buy an entire album in order to listen to a single song. This means you can get the songs you want, and for less money. However, as many people began buying singles and ignored albums, the music industry was forced to adjust. That means releasing more singles and shifting the focus away from albums and longer projects.
2. It makes music more accessible
Not only does iTunes make music easier for people to get, but it also makes music cheaper and more acceptable to the general public. Instead of forcing consumers to pay $15 or more for a CD, iTunes sells most songs for $0.99 each, and you can buy most albums for $10.
Before iTunes came along, it was also a challenge to actually find the album you wanted to buy. If you’re looking for a specific album, especially if it’s from a lesser-known artist, it could mean driving to various record stores and retailers across the city to find it. With iTunes, on the other hand, you can find almost any song you want to listen to just by doing a quick search.
3. You can keep your songs forever
Before iTunes, even if you burned MP3 yourself or turned to an illegal website to download your music, it didn’t mean you could keep it forever. Physical CDs and records may be lost, damaged or stolen. Even digital media like MP3 can be lost if your computer crashes or you lose access to it.
However, since the iTunes Store is based on Apple’s servers and has backups, it not only allows you to access your music and media on one device, but it can be accessed on almost any device connected to the internet. It also means you can re-download what you purchased as many times as you want.
While we often take cloud services like Google Drive and iCloud for granted today, in 2003, the launch of a cloud-based music market was a bold move for Apple. And it’s a hugely rewarding move.
4. It creates a whole new business model
Today, we’re used to shopping online. But before iTunes came along, buying a digital copy of anything was a new idea for a lot of people.
The iTunes store was one of the first large digital content markets. For Apple, digitizing in a world that is still mostly simulated is a bold move. Blockbuster videos were still a force to be reckoned with when the iTunes store launched, and Netflix didn’t even start offering a lot of content until four years later.
iTunes started with only music, but it quickly grew. It’s not just a music market, but a place where you can find audiobooks, podcasts, and more. In 2005, movies and videos were also available for purchase on the platform. The iTunes store quickly evolved from an experiment with online shopping to a true source of power for digital content.
5. It led to the birth of music streaming
Nowadays, most people subscribe to some kind of music streaming service. While it’s hard to choose between Apple Music and Spotify, no matter which platform you choose, you can get an absolutely huge library of songs for a low monthly fee.
But without the influence of iTunes, this type of service might not have grown so fast. iTunes proves that the internet is capable enough for people to easily download and stream content. Perhaps more importantly, iTunes proves that people are willing to spend real money on fully digital content.
Today, we are living in a golden age of music. Getting the music you want to listen to, as well as discovering brand new songs and artists, has never been easier. But without iTunes, this scene might not have happened.
6. It helped create Apple’s ecosystem
Everyone knows that iTunes is designed to support iPod. iTunes makes it easy to buy, store, and download music on Apple MP3 players. But there was only one obvious problem: the early iPods didn’t have access to the internet. The iPod’s history dates back to 2001, but it wasn’t until 2007, when the iPod touch was released, that the Wi-Fi-enabled iPod appeared.
So, how exactly should you put the music you bought on iTunes onto your iPod?
Home computers bridge the gap between the iTunes store and the iPod. Although iTunes is compatible with Windows computers, the easiest way to run iTunes and stream music from iTunes to iPod is to use a Mac. It’s a great combination. You use your Mac to browse, buy, and download your music, and then you use your iPod to listen to it.
Although Apple discontinued the iPod in 2022, iTunes was the beginning of the Apple ecosystem as we know it, and Apple hasn’t looked back since.
iTunes changed music forever
Not only did iTunes help the iPod become the most successful music player ever, but it also made ripples in the music and tech industries. While most people have moved away from iTunes (in large part due to Apple stopping using macOS), there would be no Apple Music and no Spotify without iTunes.
iTunes helped the world transition from physical CDs and records to today’s digital and cloud content libraries. Whether it’s the way we discover music, the way we buy it, or the way we listen to it, there’s no doubt that iTunes has changed music forever.