The store began after Apple signed deals with the five major record labels at the time, EMI, Universal, Warner, Sony Music Entertainment, and BMG (the last two would later merge to form Sony BMG). Music from more than 2,000 independent labels was added later, the first from Moby on July 29, 2003.
The store has more than 8,000,000 songs, including exclusive tracks from numerous popular artists. Not all artists are available on iTunes, including some popular ones such as The Beatles, Garth Brooks, Tool, and AC/DC as well as a lack of complete or entire albums from some artists.
New songs are added to the iTunes catalog every day, while the iTunes Store is updated each Tuesday. Apple also releases a 'Single of the Week' in both English and sometimes Spanish and usually a 'Discovery Download' on Tuesdays, which are available for free for one week.
Perhaps the most notable case of music being removed is of Frank Zappa; a significant portion of his music was added to the iTunes store in August 2005 and then in August 2006 removed.
Downloaded songs come with song information (name, artist, album) already filled out, though iTunes provides a free service by Gracenote to do this for songs not purchased from the store, although they must be imported with iTunes. Songs that have an entry in the iTunes Store also come with album artwork. As of the release of iTunes 7, the artwork can be obtained for songs not purchased from the store for free if the user has an iTunes Store account. Purchased songs do not come with lyrics already typed in to the application's window for them; nor does iTunes provide a service for acquiring the missing lyrics.
Some songs are available from the store by "Album Only," meaning the song can only be acquired through the purchase of the entire album, whereas most songs can be downloaded separately from the album they belong to. Soundtracks often have many "Album Only" tracks. Movie soundtracks normally include songs owned by many different labels, making licensing more complex. For example, Forrest Gump: The Soundtrack includes songs from Peacock Records, Argo Records, and Capitol Records, among many others. Greatest Hits by Red Hot Chili Peppers has only one song, "Higher Ground," that is not available for download on a per song basis. The easiest way around this is for the user to search for the artist and find the particular song(s) they want on another release, which is sometimes available without having to purchase an entire album.
When entering the U.S. music store, there are multiple sub-divided stores that one can go into. These stores are either found under ‘More In Music,’ ‘Genres,’ ‘Pre-Orders,’ ‘Celebrity Playlists’ and ‘Free Downloads.’ Within ‘More In Music,’ one can enter various random stores such as Starbucks Entertainment and iTunes Essentials. iTunes Essentials contains groupings of music based upon the artist of the music (Artist Essentials), the genre or history of the music (Genres and History), or any other similarities (My Groove). Each grouping of music is essentially a pre-made playlist. The songs in the playlist are all listed in order of their importance, starting with the artist's most well-known song. These playlists usually contain either 45 or 75 songs equally distributed in three sections: The Basics (the biggest, best, and most important songs), Next Steps (usually composed of popular songs just beyond the hits) and Deep Cuts (under-appreciated songs). Occasionally, specific Artist Essentials do not have a Deep Cuts section. This usually depends on how many releases the artist has completed over the years. Within ‘Genres,’ one can enter music stores that only have one genre such as blues or reggae. There are a total of 20 genres in the U.S. music store. ‘Pre-Orders’ lists albums that one can pre-order before the album is released. ‘Celebrity Playlists’ contains lists of songs chosen and described by celebrities. ‘Free Downloads’ are songs that subscribed iTunes Store users can obtain for free.
On November 1, 2006, Apple created a new category for Latino or Hispanic content, “iTunes Latino”. Telemundo and Mun2 made some of their popular programs available for purchase, becoming the first Hispanic television content in the store. It offers music, music videos, audiobooks, podcasts and television shows in Spanish in a single concentrated area. The brief descriptions given to the content is in Spanish as well as several sub-categories. Gibraltarian Flamenco Metal band Breed 77, released an exclusive album called Un Encuentro to coincide with the launch of “iTunes Latino”. It features 11 songs, all from previous albums, but all sung in Spanish.
Main Article: Audiobooks The iTunes Store also includes over 20,000 audiobooks, encoded at 32 kilobits per second. Ninety-second previews are offered for every book. These books are provided by Audible.com. This is the same format available if the user signs up directly with Audible.com and chose the "iPod" format. The main difference is that it is unnecessary to sign up for a subscription to get audiobooks as is the case with Audible. A small discount is provided through buying audiobooks through the iTunes Store, but on a selective basis by Apple in comparison to an "always on member discount" if one has an Audible subscription.
In October 2005, Apple announced the latest iPod would be capable of playing video files, which would be sold online through the iTunes Store in the U.S. These videos included 2000 music videos and episodes of popular television programs. Apple made a deal with Disney to be the first supplier of TV shows, the first shows available included episodes of Lost and Desperate Housewives with each episode becoming available the day after it originally aired on broadcast TV. Several short animated films by Pixar are also available.
The selling of videos on iTunes sparked considerable debate as to whether there was a paying audience for programming available for free on TV. As MP3 Newswire pointed out, users are not so much paying for the TV programs themselves. Instead they are really paying for a service that offers the convenience of someone else digitizing free broadcast episodes for them for their portable device, each episode in commercial-free form, and a convenient place to select and download individual shows. Through an updated version of QuickTime Pro, users can create their own videos for the iPod, including digitized versions of programs recorded on their VCR if they wish to take the time and effort to save the cost.
On 12 September 2006, the iTunes Store began to offer additional games for purchase with the launch of iTunes 7, compatible with the iPod classic or iPod nano with video playback. Launch titles included: Bejeweled, Cubis, Mini Golf, Mahjong, Pac-Man, Tetris, Texas Hold 'Em, Vortex, and Zuma. The games cannot be played in iTunes. On 19 December 2006, iTunes released two more games for purchase: Sudoku and Royal Solitaire. On 27 February 2007 iTunes released Ms. Pac-Man. On 24 April 2007, Apple Inc. released iQuiz. Additional 'Trivia Packs' can be added to iQuiz through the use of the iQuiz Maker software. On 22 May 2007, iTunes released a version of the Lost video game, based on the TV series of that name. Also, on 17 July 2007 The Sims Bowling was added. On July 29, EA released The Sims Pool, before Sony BMG's first game "Musika" on August 7, 2007. A game called Phase, which is similar to Guitar Hero and made by Harmonix, was added to the store on September 13, 2007. The game allows users to use their own songs in the game. A role-playing game, Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes, was released by Square Enix on July 7, 2008.
iTunes U was announced at Cupertino, California on May 30, 2007. iTunes U features free content such as course lectures, language lessons, lab demonstrations, sports highlights and campus tours provided by many top US colleges and universities.
- Main Article: App Store
With the launch of iPhone 3G and the 2.0 firmware for iPod touch and iPhone owners, the App Store allows people to purchase applications through the iTunes desktop software or the App Store on their iPhones. As of July 11, there are over 500 applications with 150 of them free. The applications can only be run on iPhones or iPod touch. Each application is also protected with iTunes FairPlay DRM. Developers of these applications receive 70% of the income and free applications are distributed without charge to the developer.
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