Apple Announces New iTunes Music Store, New Version of iTunes

by , 2:15 PM EDT, April 28th, 2003

At a special media event today in San Francisco, Apple announced its new online music service, the iTunes Music Store. Backed by all of the major record labels, it brings full integration with the new iTunes 4. From the press release:

Apple® today launched the iTunes® Music Store, a revolutionary online music store that lets customers quickly find, purchase and download the music they want for just 99 cents per song, without subscription fees. The iTunes Music Store offers groundbreaking personal use rights, including burning songs onto an unlimited number of CDs for personal use, listening to songs on an unlimited number of iPods, playing songs on up to three Macintosh® computers, and using songs in any application on the Mac®, including iPhoto, iMovie and iDVD.

"The iTunes Music Store offers the revolutionary rights to burn an unlimited number of CDs for personal use and to put music on an unlimited number of iPods for on-the-go listening," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "Consumers don?t want to be treated like criminals and artists don't want their valuable work stolen. The iTunes Music Store offers a groundbreaking solution for both."

The iTunes Music Store features over 200,000 songs from music companies including BMG, EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal and Warner. Users can easily search the entire music store to instantly locate any song by title, artist or album, or browse the entire collection of songs by genre, artist and album. Users can listen to a free 30-second high-quality preview of any song in the store, then purchase and download their favorite songs or complete albums in pristine digital quality with just one click.

The iTunes Music Store also features exclusive tracks from over 20 artists, including Bob Dylan, U2, Eminem, Sheryl Crow and Sting, as well as special music videos from several of these artists which users can watch for free. In addition, the iTunes Music Store highlights new releases, staff favorites and up-and-coming artists, and delivers a compelling variety of music from many genres and time periods, ranging from Rock and Hip Hop to Jazz and Classical. The ability to browse the entire music store by genre, artist and album combined with free high-quality previews of every song lets users explore music in an entirely new way, to easily find the hits they love and discover gems they've never heard before.

All music on the iTunes Music Store is encoded in the industry-standard AAC audio format at 128 kilobits per second which enables smaller files and faster download times while rivaling CD-quality sound superior to the quality of MP3 files at the same size. The AAC audio format, developed by Dolby, was also adopted to provide the audio encoding for the industry-standard MPEG-4 video format.

The iTunes Music Store is available immediately at More information can be found in the press release.

The Mac Observer Spin:

Our inital observations? Apple may very well have itself a winner with their new music service. There are several major points of interest here. First of all, the five major record labels are backing the service. This is huge for any online music service to be successful. Secondly, Apple made the move to the higher quality AAC format -- a step that could signal a move away from MP3s on down the road. Finally, the $0.99 per song is very reasonable, with $10 per album being quite a steal. As with any service of this nature, it remains to be seen how consumers will respond. In this case, however, we believe Apple might have hit a homerun.