As we said in early-morning coverage, Apple has announced a new version of iTunes on this, the 1st anniversary of the launch of the iTunes Music Store (iTMS). The company launched iTunes 4.5, which includes many enhancements and new features for the iTMS (check out our full coverage for more information on those new features).
In its press release covering the new release, Apple also has some facts, figures, and other announcements that go beyond iTunes 4.5. First up is the fact that Apple has had 70 million songs purchased at the iTMS. As we reported earlier this year, that means that Apple missed its target of selling more than 100 million songs in the first year of operation. However, Apple also announced that it is now on track to sell more than 140 million in the next year, selling more than 2.7 million songs per week. That is an increase of 200,000 songs per week since March 15th of this year, and puts Apple on track to becoming one of the largest individual retailers of music.
Apple also announced that the iTMS now has some 700,000 songs available for download, the largest catalog of any of the online music services. Those tracks include titles from more than 450 independent labels, as well as all five major labels.
Perhaps more interesting, Apple says that it is currently offering exclusive tracks from more than 150 artists. This includes what Apple describes as "starting today, [the iTMS is offering] dozens of out-of-print recordings from Motown Records, including the first 45 singles and 45 hard-to-find albums from the Motown archive -- available digitally for the first time." The company also has an exclusive song from The Beastie Boy, as well as the only legal digital offering of The Foo Fightersi catalog.
Other anniversary specials include a free song every day for the next eight days from the following artists: Foo Fighters, Avril Lavigne, Courtney Love, Annie Lennox, Janeis Addiction, Counting Crows, Renee Fleming and Nelly Furtado. As we reported this morning, Apple will thereafter be offering a free song every week.
The most interesting thing included in Apple press release, however, is the fact that Apple is reducing the number of times someone can burn a playlist of songs downloaded from the iTMS. When launched, Steve Jobs announced that users could burn any given song as many times as they want (which remains the case), while any given playlist could be burned a maximum of 10 times. That move was done to placate the labels who were concerned about CD-burning being used to facilitate piracy. Apple now says that users will be able to burn a playlist of downloaded songs a maximum of 7 times. From the press release:
Honoring Appleis commitment to discourage music theft while preserving fair personal use rights, the number of times a user can burn the same playlist onto CDs with iTunes is being reduced from ten burns to seven. Users can still burn a single song an unlimited number of times and listen to their music on an unlimited number of iPods.
Such a change marks the first limitation of user rights that Apple has implemented, and it is not clear why the company had to do so. With Appleis first year of licensing having come to a close, it can be surmised that the new limitation came at the insistence of the Big Five major labels. Steve Jobs is holding a press conference this morning, and this subject might be addressed at that time.