The Sunday Magazine: Farewell to iTunes

I remember when the iPod was announced in 2001. A digital music player which held hundreds of songs which fit in a shirt pocket. The dream of being able to carry every bit of music I owned with me had begun to come true. I was not an Apple computer person so I couldn’t join in until the second edition of iPod was released which was compatible with Windows. Right away I found about the big draw back to being a Windows user of an iPod. The horribly clunky music management program called “MusicMatch”. I watched my Apple compatible friends using this thing called “iTunes” which was so much easier. So much easier I almost became an Apple computer person. Thankfully after about a year there was an iTunes for Windows. Ever since that day all the music I have ever owned has been in an iTunes library. Which made the news of last week that Apple was phasing out iTunes unexpectedly sad to me. It wasn’t that my music still wouldn’t have a home. It made me think what an impact iTunes had on music in such a short time.

As iTunes was released there was a lot of music pirating going on using new file sharing services. The record companies had no idea how to fight the internet buccaneers allowing for their content to be downloaded for free. You didn’t have to pay for a compact disc anymore you just joined a file sharing site and downloaded it for free. The hitch was you had to burn your own copy on a blank CD. The iPod was about to change that. Now those files could just go right into the player. There was a legitimate worry nobody would buy music again.

Then Steve Jobs took advantage of this climate and opened the “iTunes store” as an adjunct to the main program. He would convince the record companies that if it was sold for a reasonable price people would legally choose to download music. Then Mr. Jobs used the timing to make a bold move. All songs, every single song, would cost 99 cents. No exceptions. Unsurprisingly many, but not all, signed on the dotted line. This would be the move which would beat the free file sharing services because 99 cents were exactly the right price. Even for me. I chose to buy new music on iTunes often because that worked for me.

iTunes has been my own personal top 40 countdown as I am able to look back and see what my most played songs are ever. I can see my own trendlines when I search by dates. None of this is going away it will just be called Apple Music from now on and the video and podcasts now have their own home. All things change but I will miss my giant iTunes library and the history it represents.

Mark Behnke