September 8, 2003: Apple reveals that the iTunes Music Store recently sold its 10 millionth song download. The tune in question? Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated.”
Come to think of it, “You fall and you crawl and you break and you take what you get and you turn it into [success]” describes Apple pretty well in the late ’90s and early 2000s.
iTunes: A big hit that got even bigger
Apple launched the iTunes Music Store in April 2003 to counter file-sharing networks like Napster and LimeWire, which turned the internet into a haven for music piracy. After striking deals with record labels large and small, Apple offered consumers an easy and legitimate way to buy digital versions of songs to play on their Macs and iPods. (Apple launched the digital music player in October 2001.)
The iTunes Music Store sold tracks for 99 cents each and became an instant hit with users and panicky record execs alike.
iTunes’ 10 millionth song was actually downloaded at 11:34 p.m. Pacific on September 3, 2003. However, it took Apple a few days to release the news. With the iTunes Music Store operating for little more than four months, it already had proven a massive success.
“Legally selling ten million songs online in just four months is a historic milestone for the music industry, musicians and music lovers everywhere,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement. “Apple offers the only complete solution for digital music with iTunes and the amazing iPod, which now holds 10,000 songs in your pocket.”
More iTunes milestones ahead
There’s no doubt that 10 million downloads sounds impressive. However, what seems more amazing, when viewed historically, is just how comparatively paltry that number is.
The following July, Apple revealed that the iTunes Music Store had sold its 100 millionth song — Zero 7’s “Somersault (Dangermouse remix).”
Even more amazing, by February 2010, iTunes sold its 10 billionth song: Johnny Cash’s “Guess Things Happen That Way.” Today, Apple sits north of 40 billion songs sold, despite the iTunes Store giving way to streaming via Apple Music.
What was your first iTunes download?
Do you remember the early days of iTunes? What was the first song you downloaded from Apple’s groundbreaking online music store? Leave your comments and recollections below.