The thought that the iTunes Music Store Has Sold 25 Billion Songs in 10 Years is stunning. For many it is hard to remember the music industry landscape as iTunes started selling music a decade ago. The CD had peaked in popularity at the start of the new millennium, topping off an amazing decade of music sales. Yet the decade closed and broadband speeds became more pervasive, it seemed that ‘file sharing’ sites such as Napster and Limewire were going to completely devalue music by making downloading as easy as doing an AltaVista search.
But in April of 2003 Steve Jobs presented a new vision – a simplified way to legally buy music online that would integrate it with your existing music ripped from your CD collection, and all of it easily synced to your iPod. The service appealed to the music industry because Jobs could deliver a huge number of legit credit cards, and it appealed to customers because for $0.99 you could get a song and $9.99 would net you an album.
And guess what – it worked! Millions of people flocked to iTunes, and it has slowly built into a massive ecosystem that is the largest music retailer in the world. Not only is it largest in terms of sales with an estimated 65% market share of paid digital downloads, it has the largest library with more than 26 million songs and is available in 119 countries. It is large enough that it accounted for nearly 40% of all US music sales in 2012!
Now the iTunes Music Store has sold more than 25 billion songs in 10 years. And if you look at the graph at the top you see that the cumulative trend is growing exponentially, which is good for artists and music fans alike. Why do I say that? Because with a massive library, Genius system and recommendations, many artists find the system presents a very ‘flat playing field’ where it is possible to get exposure even if you don’t have record label dollars behind you.
I have written about iTunes as well as Amazon MP3 and Google Play Music before, and it is interesting to see where they are at the end of 2012. iTunes as I mentioned has ~65% share, Amazon has ~16%, and Google Play joins eMusic and Zune and others at <5%. While not the focus of this post, it is stunning to me that after a couple of years Google Play Music is a total flop while the greater Google Play market sees millions of daily views. In fact, a recent report only shows Google Play Music having recognition with 1 in 5 digital music buyers. Not very good for a platform with 75% global market share.
As for Amazon MP3, I have written before that it is my preferred music source, as they have a solid selection (second only to iTunes), ability to listen from Android or iOS, and better pricing almost 100% of the time. As with almost everything they do, Amazon seems to have focused on making their product and service convenient and available for everyone.
It is easy to look at the changes that have happened over the last decade and be critical of Apple – tiered pricing structures have made most things more expensive, and Amazon and others got DRM-free music first (it was a power play by the labels, who wanted the increased pricing) – it is worth taking a moment and reflecting upon the landscape of the music industry when the iTunes Music store launched … and the reality that Apple and iTunes went a long way to saving the industry from even worse declines than it has seen.
You can find the full details at Apple.