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iTunes Store Turns 10 184

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-celebrate-by-deleting-all-your-songs-again dept.
An anonymous reader writes "On April 28, 2003, Apple launched the iTunes Music Store. In their original press release, they called it 'revolutionary,' in typical PR fashion. As the service reaches its 10th anniversary, it seems they were actually correct. From The Verge: 'At launch, it was Mac-only and offered a relatively tiny catalog: 200,000 songs (it currently has 26 million). But it did have the support of the major record labels of the day: Universal, EMI, Warner, Sony, and BMG. The partnerships were key to helping Apple take control of music distribution — without the songs, the iPod was a nicely designed but empty box. ... Jobs certainly had his challenges. Vidich said he's the one who suggested that iTunes charge 99 cents per track and he remembers Jobs nearly hugged him. At the time, Sony Music execs wanted to charge more than $3 a track, according to Vidich. No doubt a $3 song price would have tied an anchor around iTunes' neck, stifling growth. 99 cents, on the other hand, was below the sub-$1 psychological barrier — and has continued to be an important price point for not only music but the wide swath of 99-cent iOS apps in the store. ... Apple bet that the majority of consumers wouldn't have an issue with its lock-in tactics, and it bet correctly.'"
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iTunes Store Turns 10

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  • What exactly is the lock in if I buy a song on iTunes or an eBook?

    • Re: Lock in Tactics? (Score:5, Informative)

      by malchus842 (741252) <stephen@adamsemail.net> on Sunday April 28, 2013 @08:41AM (#43573429) Homepage
      Originally, iTunes had DRM on music so it could only be played while iTunes was connected to your account (not always on). They removed the DRM later for music. It's still there for movies.
      • Re: Lock in Tactics? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 28, 2013 @10:20AM (#43573843)

        Originally, iTunes had DRM on music so it could only be played while iTunes was connected to your account (not always on). They removed the DRM later for music. It's still there for movies.

        The article is incorrect to say this addition is Apple's - applying DRM was a prerequisite of the music industry for the licensing agreement with Apple. No DRM, no license. The removal of DRM has only happened because the music industry finally saw the writing on the wall and allowed Apple (and others) to remove it.

        The movie industry isn't so enlightened yet. I avoid buying films through iTunes or alternatives, because it is far too easy to fall into a situation where you can't watch the media you legally purchased. We moved house recently and our ISP was late reconnecting us - for that period of time (over a month) we couldn't watch any films we previously purchased online because they required an Internet connection for authorisation. I'm longing for the day the movie industry wakes up to its poor treatment of customers and removes these DRM constraints.

        • I don't know why you've been downmodded despite the fact that you are telling the absolute truth. Maybe it's because your opinion isn't 'hurr durr Apple is satan', which doesn't fly with /.ers. Regardless, you are correct, Apple gains little from DRM and never wanted it. I wouldn't be surprised if that was the reason why they never made any effort to hide the fact that if you really wanted DRM free tracks, you could burn it to a CD (or virtual CD), then rip it again. Yeah it's a PITA, but them's (were) the
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by oldlurker (2502506)

          Originally, iTunes had DRM on music so it could only be played while iTunes was connected to your account (not always on). They removed the DRM later for music. It's still there for movies.

          The article is incorrect to say this addition is Apple's - applying DRM was a prerequisite of the music industry for the licensing agreement with Apple. No DRM, no license. The removal of DRM has only happened because the music industry finally saw the writing on the wall and allowed Apple (and others) to remove it.

          Apple have this perception that they pushed for removing DRM, which might be true, but it is interesting that at the time of iTunes DRM the competing WMA "plays for sure" (*) stores actually had less DRM restrictions than Apple (you could keep and use more copies of the songs on more devices simultaneously, burn more copies, re-download if license lost, etc - iTunes caught up on some of these eventually but was not in the lead for less DRM). And it was Amazon who was first with a full DRM-free music catalog

          • When it came to DRM free tracks, it appears the sticking point was variable pricing. It looks like Apple relented and the studios raised the prices to 1.29 for each DRM free track. Also the studios realized they actually gave Apple leverage when they insisted on DRM as millions of tracks required Apple devices and couldn't be moved off.
          • Re: Lock in Tactics? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Plumpaquatsch (2701653) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @08:34PM (#43577269) Journal

            Apple have this perception that they pushed for removing DRM, which might be true, but it is interesting that at the time of iTunes DRM the competing WMA "plays for sure" (*) stores actually had less DRM restrictions than Apple (you could keep and use more copies of the songs on more devices simultaneously, burn more copies, re-download if license lost, etc

            "Plays for sure" - see, that's where the problem with your argument starts. PlaysForSure was introduced late in 2004 - IOW over a year after the iTunes DRM.

            But that's just a technicality, so let's look at the actual competition. http://www.salon.com/2003/04/29/itunes/ [salon.com]

            I have seen the future of music and its name is iTunes

            [...] Many online music services are on the market, but they’ve all done poorly, most likely because, as Jobs said, they all “treat you like a criminal.” For the most part, the other services are subscription based — users pay a $10 or $20 per-month fee for access to a catalog of songs, and they must put up with a Byzantine set of rules outlining how they can use the tracks. Some services only offer “streaming” music, meaning that you have to be connected to the Internet when you want to listen to your songs; others let you download songs so long as you play them on a single machine (forget about transferring them to portable MP3 players); a few services let you burn songs to CDs, but only for selected tracks for an extra per-song fee. The worst part is, you have to keep paying to get the music; once you cancel your subscription, you can no longer listen to many of the tracks you’ve downloaded.

            http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2003/05/12/342289/ [cnn.com]

            Universal and Sony rolled out a joint venture called Pressplay. AOL Time Warner (the parent of both Warner and FORTUNE's publisher), Bertelsmann (BMG's owner), EMI, and RealNetworks launched MusicNet. But instead of trying to cooperate to attract customers, the two ventures competed to dominate the digital market. Pressplay wouldn't license its songs to MusicNet, and MusicNet withheld its tunes from Pressplay.

            [...]The record companies were also fearful about doing anything that might cannibalize CD sales. So they decided to "rent" people music through the Internet. You paid a monthly subscription fee for songs from MusicNet and Pressplay. But you could download MusicNet tunes onto only one computer, and they disappeared if you didn't pay your bill. That may have protected the record companies from piracy, but it didn't do much for consumers. Why fork over $10 a month for a subscription when you can't do anything with your music but listen to it on your PC? Pressplay launched with CD burning but only for a limited number of songs.

            At the end of last year, Pressplay and MusicNet licensed their catalogues to each other, ending their standoff. MusicNet also now permits subscribers to burn certain songs onto CDs. But MusicNet users still can't download songs onto portable players. "These devices haven't caught on yet," insists MusicNet CEO Alan McGlade. Never mind that U.S. sales of portable MP3 players soared from 724,000 in 2001 to 1.6 million last year. Pressplay, for its part, lets subscribers download some songs onto devices, but only those that use Microsoft's Windows Media software. That means no iPods.

            But I'm sure you can come up with others that were around at the time the iTunes Music Store came out.

            • Apple have this perception that they pushed for removing DRM, which might be true, but it is interesting that at the time of iTunes DRM the competing WMA "plays for sure" (*) stores actually had less DRM restrictions than Apple (you could keep and use more copies of the songs on more devices simultaneously, burn more copies, re-download if license lost, etc

              "Plays for sure" - see, that's where the problem with your argument starts. PlaysForSure was introduced late in 2004 - IOW over a year after the iTunes DRM.

              But that's just a technicality, so let's look at the actual competition. http://www.salon.com/2003/04/29/itunes/ [salon.com]

              I have seen the future of music and its name is iTunes

              [...] Many online music services are on the market, but they’ve all done poorly, most likely because, as Jobs said, they all “treat you like a criminal.” For the most part, the other services are subscription based — users pay a $10 or $20 per-month fee for access to a catalog of songs, and they must put up with a Byzantine set of rules outlining how they can use the tracks. Some services only offer “streaming” music, meaning that you have to be connected to the Internet when you want to listen to your songs; others let you download songs so long as you play them on a single machine (forget about transferring them to portable MP3 players); a few services let you burn songs to CDs, but only for selected tracks for an extra per-song fee. The worst part is, you have to keep paying to get the music; once you cancel your subscription, you can no longer listen to many of the tracks you’ve downloaded.

              http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2003/05/12/342289/ [cnn.com]

              Universal and Sony rolled out a joint venture called Pressplay. AOL Time Warner (the parent of both Warner and FORTUNE's publisher), Bertelsmann (BMG's owner), EMI, and RealNetworks launched MusicNet. But instead of trying to cooperate to attract customers, the two ventures competed to dominate the digital market. Pressplay wouldn't license its songs to MusicNet, and MusicNet withheld its tunes from Pressplay.

              [...]The record companies were also fearful about doing anything that might cannibalize CD sales. So they decided to "rent" people music through the Internet. You paid a monthly subscription fee for songs from MusicNet and Pressplay. But you could download MusicNet tunes onto only one computer, and they disappeared if you didn't pay your bill. That may have protected the record companies from piracy, but it didn't do much for consumers. Why fork over $10 a month for a subscription when you can't do anything with your music but listen to it on your PC? Pressplay launched with CD burning but only for a limited number of songs.

              At the end of last year, Pressplay and MusicNet licensed their catalogues to each other, ending their standoff. MusicNet also now permits subscribers to burn certain songs onto CDs. But MusicNet users still can't download songs onto portable players. "These devices haven't caught on yet," insists MusicNet CEO Alan McGlade. Never mind that U.S. sales of portable MP3 players soared from 724,000 in 2001 to 1.6 million last year. Pressplay, for its part, lets subscribers download some songs onto devices, but only those that use Microsoft's Windows Media software. That means no iPods.

              But I'm sure you can come up with others that were around at the time the iTunes Music Store came out.

              My point wasn't really who launched the store first, sorry if that was unclear, but that when the WMA stores launched they had less DRM restrictions than iTunes had at the same time. I used both iTunes and MSN Music myself at the same time (yes, really). Especially the option to freely re-download songs if you lost the license for some reason (accidentally deleted, sync error, lost with PC), instead of having to buy it again. This is pretty major, and iTunes did not have it at the time [about.com], you had to buy the s

          • by Wovel (964431)

            Amazon Started selling their DRM free music within in a week or so of Apple. They both started with the EMI catalog. I imagine it was really the combined pressure of two of the largest music retailers pushing on one distributor.

      • That is incorrect. You could play titles without being online. And you could export even the DRM titles as mp3, to burn them on CDs.

        • Note that I said "Not always on." In other words, the account needed to be connected to your iTunes and authenticated. But it didn't have to be always on. In other words, what I wrote was correct.
          • Well. perhaps you ment the correct thing but in my eyes your choice of words is very missleading (for me at least).

            "Account connected to iTunes" is for me a synonym for being online. But understand now what you mean. Would not know myself how to express the situation properly in english :)

        • by SeaFox (739806)

          And you could export even the DRM titles as mp3, to burn them on CDs.

          No, you have that backwards. You could burn them to CD directly from iTunes, and then rerip them to MP3.

          • Sorry expressed it unfortunate, yes should not have said export, it was a direct burn to CD (which technically is an export, too) my fault :)

  • Question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by olip85 (1770514) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @08:41AM (#43573427)

    I thought software was supposed to improve with time?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I thought software was supposed to improve with time?

      "Improve with time" means "make more profit for the corporation". It has done that.

      What, you didn't think "improvement" meant "give you a better user experience", did you?

  • by mauriceh (3721)

    The important part of all of this is that iTunes is the means by which the industry transformed our purchasing method form possession to renting music.

    When you die the rights to that music dies with you.

    • The important part of all of this is that iTunes is the means by which the industry transformed our purchasing method form possession to renting music.

      When you die the rights to that music dies with you.

      Hint: Your local library probably has tons of CDs available to lend. CD's that can be ripped into drm-free mp3 tracks, and rename them as you like ( 'Artist name' - 'Song title' ). Just make sure you have multiple backups created (flashdrives, sd cards work well).

      • by mauriceh (3721)

        I live in Canada, where this is probably legal.
        We have a federal law regarding copying music for personal use.

        In other locations, notably the USA, not so much..

    • When you die the rights to that music dies with you.

      Legally, I suppose it is part of my estate and goes to whoever inherits that estate. It certainly won't stop playing. Sadly though I must say that when I die, those who inherit it might lack the taste to appreciate it.

      • I don't think iTunes music or an account is transferable. You 'rent' it for life (the life of you or of iTunes), then if it isn't backed up offline in a drm-free format, it's lost. There was recently a case of some celeb who wanted to bequeath his large iTunes collection to his heirs, he learned that he couldn't do it.

        My advice for people is to burn your music collection to disc, copying it from the discs rids the tracks of any drm (I've heard this works). Then do offline backups of the tracks.

    • by berj (754323)

      When you die the rights to that music dies with you.

      It does? Where does it say that? I've looked over the TOS and I can't find that anywhere. What have I missed?

      http://www.apple.com/legal/itunes/us/terms.html [apple.com]

      • Apple’s iTunes terms, for example, stipulate:

        You can’t sell or give someone else your purchase; the license is for the “end user use only.”

        You can play music, video and e-book content on up to five different computers – except for film rentals.

        You can burn music playlists onto a disc seven times.

        You can’t make copies for anything other than your own personal backup.

        In practical – but legally grey — terms, people who want to pass on or sell dig

        • And this is something that needs to be resolved for all digital purchases. I would be very happy to see legal protections in place to allow the re-sale and transfer of such content. Media companies fight this tooth and nail.

    • Considering that all music on iTunes has been DRM free for 5 years, I'd say you haven't been paying attention.
    • by gsslay (807818)

      If I'm dead, why do I care?

      Those who inherit from you won't ever listen to most of your music. There might be a areas where your tastes coincide, and there might be a few tracks that they particularly remember you by. But if they cared enough about they music they'd already have a copy (legally or otherwise). If they cared enough about remembering you they'd go purchase a copy.

      And failing that, who's going to stop you taking a copy off your Mom's iPod after the funeral? We don't (yet) have trojans that

      • by mauriceh (3721)

        All of which entirely misses the point that has been made.
        If I want to ignore the contract I agreed to with Apple/Amazon/Google, etc.,
          I could do so and find free sources of music, and remove DRM or other signatures.

        However the point and discussion at hand is about the transition from buying a copy of music to being loaned a copy, at a fee.

  • It would help to know who this Vidich is without having to click through to the article. Editing fail.
  • The real story (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theurge14 (820596) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @11:23AM (#43574181)

    The real revolution was that Apple became a big enough player with the iPod to force the hand of the big 5 of the RIAA to actually offer their music online in digital form for what many people deemed a fair enough price to not pirate. It seems commonplace now in 2013 enough to forget, but in the mid 2000s there were very options for consumers to get their music online, and one could argue this was one of the bigger reasons for online piracy. We see echoes of this still today as the news reported last week that the HBO show Game of Thrones is one of the biggest pirated shows online, and some would argue this is because of consumer's perceived lack of options for watching it online. Apple challenged the old distribution model and won, that's what the story is.

    • The real revolution was that Apple became a big enough player with the iPod to force the hand of the big 5

      I agree that Apple's battle with the RIAA is the real story, but that's not a revolution, it is just trading one monopoly for another.

      • Re:The real story (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Uberbah (647458) on Sunday April 28, 2013 @08:19PM (#43577187)

        it is just trading one monopoly for another.

        ORLY? When did Apple get a monopoly on music distribution - did the buy out Sony and BMG when no one was looking? How long have you been unable to buy the same music at similar prices at similar stores? When did Apple revert back to protected-AAC formats, preventing you from playing iTMS-purchased tracks on non-Apple devices?

        Or maybe you're using that word, "monopoly", and it doesn't mean whatever it is you think it means. Consider switching to decaf hatorade....

        • ORLY? When did Apple get a monopoly on music distribution - did the buy out Sony and BMG when no one was looking?

          Itunes accounts for nearly 70% of the digital download market. They are at least 3x larger than their nearest competitor. That's a monopoly in the same the RIAA has a monopoly on physical music distribution. Sure you can buy a CD from an unsigned band, just don't expect to do it in any of the stores that carry CDs from signed bands.

          Or maybe you're using that word, "monopoly", and it doesn't mean whatever it is you think it means

          You seem to be implying that you are one of those literalists who think that the mono in monopoly means "only one" rather than market control by the largest entity. By that d

      • Please define monopoly. If I want to get the newest song from latest popular boy band, I don't have to use iTunes. I can get a CD or buy from Amazon or Google. It will work with my iPod. Since all the tracks are DRM free from iTunes, it will work with an Android phone.
        • Please define monopoly

          Overwhelming market advantage. Not unlike what the RIAA has on artists. Itunes has around 70% of the market for music downloads. Sure you can buy an MP3 from Amazon just like you can find music from bands that haven't signed with the RIAA. But Apple and the RIAA are both at least 3x larger than their nearest competitors.

          • by MrMickS (568778)

            Please define monopoly

            Overwhelming market advantage. Not unlike what the RIAA has on artists. Itunes has around 70% of the market for music downloads. Sure you can buy an MP3 from Amazon just like you can find music from bands that haven't signed with the RIAA. But Apple and the RIAA are both at least 3x larger than their nearest competitors.

            I don't think that you understand what a monopoly is. Apple would have a monopoly if the music sold on iTunes wasn't available elsewhere. They don't so there isn't a monopoly. Whether Apple have a commercial advantage due to the ease of use is a different issue, and more like the one that you're referring to, but it isn't a monopoly.

            This is nothing like the RIAA and artists. If an artist signs for a record company they sign away rights to the record company in return for money and services from the record c

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            Overwhelming market advantage. Not unlike what the RIAA has on artists. Itunes has around 70% of the market for music downloads. Sure you can buy an MP3 from Amazon just like you can find music from bands that haven't signed with the RIAA. But Apple and the RIAA are both at least 3x larger than their nearest competitors.

            Hint. It is not illegal to own a monopoly

            It is illegal to use one monopoly to leverage an advantage in another market though, and in the mid 2000's, Apple was in serious danger of doing just

            • Hint. It is not illegal to own a monopoly

              Hint. I never said it was. Doesn't have to be illegal to be bad for the consumer.

          • All of which you describe is controlled by the RIAA not Apple. Also please cite a defintion of monopoly where overwhelming market position is the only criteria of "monopoly". The term that you seem to miss is a dominant market position to control the market. Apple had to cave into variable pricing to get DRM free tracks. Two other factors that also are not in your definition are "high barrier to entry" and "no suitable alternatives exist." The fact that you can get alternatives today trumps your monopoly

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