The iTunes Store Take Over
Steve Job’s created Apple on April 1, 1976 with the help of Steve Wozniak, and the two have pushed it to be one of the most dominant computer and technology companies known to date. The two started the company in Steve Job’s parents’ garage with $1,350 that they collected by selling an old Volkswagen and a Hewlett-Packard calculator. Today the company is worth 2 trillion dollars, making it the most valuable company in the world.
Apple has been a progressive innovator in the technology field from the very start, creating exceptional computers, phones, printers, watches, and the list goes on. Today we will be speaking on one of Steve Job’s greatest inventions, the iTunes Store. iTunes was created on April 28, 2003, and it forever changed the music industry. The platform now allowed for consumers to buy their favorite songs and albums for a cheap price and conveniently, and not to mention it allowed for artists to easily and safely sell their music.
Before the iTunes Store, people originally consumed their music either from burning it onto a CD, over the radio, or through online services such as Napster or Rhapsody. The issue with Napster was that it was pirated music and it made it a moral dilemma for people that wanted to use the service. As for Rhapsody, the service overcharged for their music by charging a fee on top of the subscription to download music and listen offline. Steve Job’s and the Apple team saw the issue at hand and came up with their game changing iTunes Store. The new platform allowed for consumers to download a wide variety of music and create playlists off of the app itself. The new platform worked in tandem with the IPod that released about a year before iTunes surfaced. Now users were able to easily download their favorite songs and sync them to their Ipod allowing them to listen virtually anywhere.
Identity and Consumption
When the iTunes Store opened in April of 2003 it was the only legal online platform to provide music from all 5 of the major record labels. The five main record labels were Sony, Universal, EMI, Warner and BMG. This was game changing as Apple prided itself on non pirated, affordable music for consumers. Illegally downloading music was a large issue at the time (which I will get into later). The iTunes Store when first opened provided consumers with the availability of over two hundred thousand songs, appealing to virtually every different music genre. The iTunes Store also allowed people to listen to a 30 second bit from the song of their choosing to reassure them if they would like it or not. Another feature added to iTunes was the addition of music videos that were available to watch for free. This unique feature was appealing to many consumers.
Society already was aware of the pristine products Apple created before the iTunes Store, and its company image was extraordinary. The iTunes Store was promoted through TV ads such as the one shown on the right, newspapers, online, and virtually everywhere. Along with Apple’s superior advertisement of the new product, one of the main attractions for users was the low price associated with purchasing songs and albums. Users no longer needed to pay for a subscription or other fees. The songs were sold at a set price of $0.99 and albums cost $10.00, which appealed to many as it was so affordable. Owning an Apple product or now using the iTunes Store gave consumers a feeling of being a part of an imagined community that was seen as the hip new way of listening. When the iTunes Store opened music producers and consumers were thrilled with the innovative modern way to consume and sell music.
In order to use the iTunes Store one must have an Apple device such as a Mac computer, and it must be up to date with the latest software update. The user also must have an Apple ID, a credit card on file, and a U.S billing address. Once these requirements are met a person has full access to buy and download as many of the 200,000 songs and albums as one pleases. As stated before, the Ipod was created shortly before the launch of the iTunes Store but they simultaneously released the third generation Ipod the same day as iTunes. This allowed for listeners to download all of their favorite music onto one device and it made consumption more convenient. Even though Steve Jobs’ Ipod wasn’t the first MP3 player on the market, it was easily the most successful device of its kind.
On the production side of things, Steve Jobs created iTunes because he saw the opportunity to change the music industry for good. With that being said, even though Steve Jobs created the platform the main producers are the artists themselves. With thousands of artists ranging from big time artists such as Eminem, to underground artists just starting their careers, the multitude of songs and albums seem endless. The iTunes Store made starting a career in music simple. If one aspires to post music on the platform they must meet a few simple requirements. The requirements are the artist must have an Apple ID, place a credit card on file, and a U.S tax ID. The one requirement that may seem to be an issue for some is having a U.S tax ID, considering that artists come from all over the globe. Yet, Apple makes this step doable by linking the form within their apple website. Another way artists may post their music is through paying an aggregator. An aggregator is a person who is paid to take music and format it and make sure it posts correctly onto the iTunes Store. Although this is not required, many big artists use them to make sure they are correctly formatted and appealing to their listeners.
In relation to production, the way Apple pays their creators is based on the amount of music the individual sells. As Apple has provided the artists and creators with one of the largest platforms that is used by millions of people, they of course want to be compensated. Apple takes 30% of all of sales within the store itself, this means the artists are making around $0.70 per song and $7.00 per album that they sell. Apple of course profits off of the remaining $0.30 per song or $3.00 per album.
The aspect of regulation within the iTunes Store is different than other apps or Websites, mostly because music is an art form where people express themselves freely. With that said, Apple did put some self regulation within the iTunes store itself. The way Apple decided to regulate explicit content is through a self regulation system that allows for users to block explicit content from their store by adjusting their settings. Apple makes sure that all explicit content is marked with a red E to the side of the song or album. This was significant considering people of all ages, religions, etc. would be using the platform and if a person didn’t want themselves or their children hearing explicit content they could self regulate conveniently. In addition, Apple tackled one of the largest issues within the music industry by creating a secure platform for artists to post their music on. Before iTunes there was a large issue of illegally downloading music, and this became a large issue for artists considering the hard work put into their content and the repercussions of not profiting off of it. Steve Jobs stated this during the launch of the iTunes store, “Consumers don’t want to be treated like criminals and artists don’t want their valuable work stolen. The iTunes Music Store offers a groundbreaking solution for both.”. The ability for iTunes to reassure artists that they will profit off their content, and that listeners won’t feel like criminals made their platform even more sought after.
The way the iTunes Store was structured made finding the songs you want very simple. The picture to the right is a screenshot from the iTunes Store in 2003. The way the platform is set up shows listeners the popular songs, albums, and artists in the middle, with even little album covers next to the songs or albums. On the left side of the screen there is a search bar tab, new releases tab, and many more tabs to help a listener find what they are looking for. This simple structure follows Apple’s other products as they create them to be as efficient and easy as possible to use, and this appealed to many as the modern way to listen.
Considering the large variety of genres iTunes doesn’t appeal to only one group of people, and the iTunes Store shows that it was made for everyone. As one goes through the iTunes Store they will notice the simplicity of it, the variety of music, but more importantly they will feel like they are part of something big.