Apple launched the iTunes Music Store on April 28, 2003, an online music store that lets customers find, purchase and download music for 99 cents per song.

Apple launched the iTunes Music Store on April 28, 2003, an online music store that lets customers find, purchase and download music for 99 cents per song.

Did you transfer your music collection from physical CDs, vinyl or tape to something digital? Or maybe you grew up on digital music platforms.

Chances are, one of the first products you used to listen to music on a computer was iTunes, the music library tool designed by Apple.

Yesterday, Apple announced that the company would sunset the software. It will break up iTunes with separate apps for music, podcasts and television.

The New York Times’ Kevin Roose wrote about iTunes’ “gentle, dignified passing:”

I swore I would never pay for music again, but a few years later, Apple won me over with its reliable file quality, speedy downloads and ability to sync music across devices. iTunes was simple and elegant, and it assuaged my fear of going to jail for music piracy. Within a few years, Napster had been sued out of existence, and I was getting most of my music from a company that, just a few years earlier, had been known for selling candy-colored computers.

Roose says slowly but surely, consumers began to prefer to “rent access to a centralized streaming library, not pay a small fee to own every song.”

(Your digital producer was one of those people. Once a dedicated iTunes user, she switched full-time to Spotify in 2014.)

The Ringer’s Alyssa Bereznak also noted that getting rid of iTunes is one way Apple is trying to transform into an entertainment company, in addition to the business that makes phones and computers.

That iTunes has held on longer than the iPod or the audio jack is frankly amazing, and a testament to just how central it once was to Apple’s identity. Years from now, when Apple is worth $2 trillion, and Tim Cook is accepting Emmys alongside Reese Witherspoon, we’ll still have the dopey memory of its signature software program to remind us of the company’s humble beginnings.

How did iTunes affect artists? And what legacy will it have?

We talk about music distribution in 2019.

Produced by Bianca Martin.

Guests

  • Steve Knopper Editor-at-large, Billboard magazine; author, "Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age;" @knopps
  • Lucas Shaw Reporter, Bloomberg Business; @Lucas_Shaw
  • Alyssa Bereznack Staff writer covering tech & culture, The Ringer; @alyssabereznak

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