The recent explosion in Internet song swapping presented the recording industry with a paradoxical challenge: to stop music lovers from freely trading files over the Internet, while trying to make money themselves by selling copy-protected music online. The early attempts, backed by the major record companies, featured a monthly fee, a puny song catalog, and no ability to burn the purchased music to CDs or save it onto music players. What a deal!
Needless to say, people stayed away in droves. The free (and free-form) world of Napster, Grokster, KaZaA, LimeWire, and similar file-trading services were much more attractive, at least until they started getting sued off the planet by the recording industry.
Then Apple took a whack at it. In April 2003, the company unveiled its iTunes Music Store, an online component of iTunes 4 that scored the hat trick that other companies had yet to achieve: digital audio downloads that were easy, cheap, and—drum roll, please—legal. And it’s not just for music lovers in the United States any more, as the store has since opened its doors in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, and Australia. As of 2005, the Music Store sells much more than music, with videos, animated films, and television shows available—plus thousands of free podcasts to peruse. Here’s a look inside the store, and how to shop it.
The iTunes Music Store is a super-simple, multimedia, download service that has ...