Happy 10th Birthday, iTunes!

A by-the-numbers look at Apple's game-changing retail site, which celebrates it's 10th anniversary this week

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Those past the age of 25 may find it hard to believe, but April 28 marks the ten-year anniversary of the iTunes store. Over the past decade, Apple’s groundbreaking online marketplace solution has transformed the way we purchase music.

There was a time, back in the early aughts, when the music industry was still trying to figure out how to deal with illegal downloads and file-sharing.  Apple, on the other hand, was embracing the trend and developing a way to allow music fans to legally access and own music over the Internet. With the launch of the iTunes store, consumers had a quick and easy way to purchase music — and music labels and artists were offered a way to continue profiting through the  digital revolution. (Record stores and music chains, on the other hand, didn’t fare so well.)

Alas, a decade is practically an eternity online, and as such, the download-to-own concept that iTunes revolutionized is already showing signs of age. The growth of subscription-based streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, and the current cultural dominance of YouTube, with its more than three billion videos viewed daily, hint that  that music consumers are now largely content to listen, rather than own.

Still, by any reasonable measure, iTunes continues to be a dominant industry player. Here’s a look back at the iTunes store history, by the numbers:

[ 1 ]   On April 3, 2008, iTunes officially became America’s number one-music retailer.

[ 80 ]  Percentage of U.S. consumers who purchase downloaded music that do so via iTunes.

[ 1 hour, 12 minutes ]  The average amount of time spent on the site per month, according to a January 2013 Nielsen report.

[ 200,000 ]   The number of songs that iTunes had in its catalogue when it first launched in the U.S. on April 28, 2003.

[ 26 million ]  The number of songs available on iTunes today.

[ $0.99 ]  The flat-rate cost of all songs sold on iTunes in 2003. In 2009, a three-tier pricing structure was introduced with songs selling for $0.69, $0.99, or $1.29.

[ $ 0.29 ]  Amount, per 99-cent song, that goes to Apple. The company waives its 30 percent handling charge for donations made through the iTunes Store.

[ $ 0.08 ]  Amount, per 99-cent song, that goes to the artist. Of the $ 0.70 per track (after Apple’s 30 percent cut) that goes to the label, the artist gets 12 percent.

[ 1 billion ]  The total number of songs downloaded on iTunes as of February 23, 2006 — less than three years after its launch. The history-making track: “Speed of Sound” by Coldplay, downloaded by 16-year-old Alex Ostrovsky of Michigan.

[ $ 10,000 ]  Amount of the iTunes Store gift certificate won by Alex Ostrovsky for this historic achievement. He also received 10 iPods, an iMac, and a call from Apple CEO Steve Jobs.


[ 71 ]   The age of Louie Sulcer of Georgia, on Feb. 10, 2010, when he downloaded the ten billionth song on iTunes. The song he purchased? “Guess Things Happen That Way” by Johnny Cash.


[ $149 ]  The cost of the entire box set of Beatles music on iTunes. After a three-decade long battle between the Fab Four’s Apple Corp and the computer company – primarily over the name and symbol for Apple – the living members of the band finally consented to releasing their entire catalogue on iTunes on Nov. 16, 2010.

[ 0 ] The number of albums on the iTunes Store from Garth Brooks, Tool, and Ozzy Osbourne-era Black Sabbath.

[ 25 billion ]  The number of downloads on iTunes as of Feb. 6, 2013. The song was sold in Germany to Phillip Lupke, who bought “Monkey Drums (Goksel Vancin Remix)” by Chase Buch.

[ 63 percent ]  Share of the download-music sales market that Apple commands according to a report by research firm NDP, released on April 16.

[ 119 ]   The number of countries in which the  iTunes store is available.