Today in Apple history: iTunes catalog hits 1 million songs

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Apple might start signing artists to contracts, in order to compete with the likes of Spotify. Photo: iTunes/Apple
iTunes hit a major milestone in 2004.
Photo: Apple

August10 August 10, 2004: The iTunes Music Store catalog grows to 1 million songs in the United States, a first for an online music service.

Stocking music from all five major record labels and another 600 indies, and with more than 100 millions songs downloaded, the iTunes Music Store is officially established as the world’s No. 1 online music service.

iTunes
iTunes added its “Party Mix” feature in 2004.
Photo: Apple

As a lot of readers probably will, I remember using iTunes in the early days of the service. When iTunes opened its virtual doors on April 28, 2003, it was infinitely easier to use than downloading services like Napster. Reaching the million-song milestone a year and a half later meant the majority of music fans were well-served. By that point, iTunes dominated the legal music game, with a whopping 70 percent market share for singles and albums downloaded.

Today, of course, 1 million songs is a relatively small number. Any streaming music service hoping to be taken seriously trots out the “30 million songs in its catalog” stat, which describes Spotify and Tidal as well as Apple Music. Market leader Spotify claims it adds more than 20,000 new songs every single day.

iTunes, meanwhile, has been steadily declining since becoming the largest worldwide music vendor in February 2010. While it has sold around 40 billion songs in total, its interface is in desperate need of an overhaul. Meanwhile, Apple is switching its attention away from downloads and toward streaming — as evidenced by the fact that this fall’s macOS Sierra directs customers to Apple Music inside the iTunes app.

But today’s “Today in Apple History” is a reminder that Apple was the early ruler of the online music marketplace. What was your first experience using iTunes? Leave your comments below.

Also today in Apple history:

As I research these topics, I often find interesting Apple tidbits that occurred on the same day but are maybe less worthy of a post in their own right. I’ve thought about including them as a little postscript here. Let me know if you think it’s a good idea or confusing the format!

On August 10, 1998, the tech press reported on a proposal from developers that Apple should make its source code available to devs as open source. Doing so, they argued, would allow Apple to further differentiate itself from the more controlled environment of Windows, as well as the “serious threat from the Linux groundswell,” as InfoWorld phrased it.

I would’ve loved to see Steve Jobs’ reaction when one of his lieutenants made him aware of the petition (which was roundly ignored).