Today in Apple history: iTunes tops 50 million songs downloaded


That's worth a quick dance!
Photo: Apple

March 15: Today in Apple history: iTunes tops 50 million songs downloaded March 15, 2004: The iTunes Music Store hits a musical milestone, having sold an astonishing 50 million songs in less than a year. The achievement cements Apple’s place at the center of the rapidly changing music business — at least for the moment.

Crossing 50 million songs is a major milestone for iTunes and the emerging digital music era,” Steve Jobs says in a statement. “With over 50 million songs already downloaded and an additional 2.5 million songs being downloaded every week, it’s increasingly difficult to imagine others ever catching up with iTunes.”

iTunes takes the music business by storm

While the 2004 numbers proved undoubtedly impressive, today Apple has sold billions of songs through iTunes. The company long ago stopped announcing the new landmark sales levels it hit. In other words, Apple was just getting started.

At the time, Jobs (for once) downplayed the speed at which iTunes was taking over the music industry. However, he was being totally accurate about how far ahead of the rest of the competition Apple was. Just a few months later, Apple smashed through the 100-million-song barrier.

Within five years of opening its virtual doors on April 28, 2003, Apple became the biggest music vendor (not just online) in the United States. It grew to the largest worldwide by February 2010.

Apple squanders its early lead?

Ultimately, it took the surge of streaming services like Spotify for Apple to lose its position as the clear marketplace leader. As of 2024, Spotify leads the pack in terms of paid subscribers with more than 236 million paid subscribers. Apple Music has an estimated 101 million users, with no free version available.  Music downloads, by comparison, are pretty much dead.

Still, iTunes sales milestones like the one celebrated today are always fun to look back on. They remind us of how much further Apple had to climb at the time.

Do you remember what your first iTunes song download was? Leave your memories and assorted recollections below.


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