Everything you need to know about the iTunes Music Store

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The original digital music store is still the biggest and most successful of them all.

The death of iTunes?

In June 2019, Apple revealed it would be shuttering the iTunes store in favour of individual music, video and podcast apps. While you will need to switch to these apps at some point, all your existing purchases will come with you and the functionality you've come to expect from iTunes will still be there – albeit spread across three distinct apps.

If you want to know more, we've broken down what Apple killing iTunes means for the average Aussie.

In 2002, Steve Jobs convinced Warner Music, Universal Music, Sony Music, BMG and EMI to team up with Apple for the launch of the first legal digital music store to offer a selection on par with bricks-and-mortar stores. Within 18 hours of its launch, the iTunes Store sold over a quarter of a million tracks, and it hit a full million less than five days later. That's quite a feat considering the store was only available on Mac for the first six months of its life.

iTunes' success sent waves of change through the entire music industry. CDs gave way to MP3s, iPods replaced stereo systems and music slowly got cheaper – though perhaps not as much as it should have, given the lower costs of digital distribution. Nevertheless, the iTunes Music Store redefined how the world purchased and listened to music, becoming the single largest seller of music across the globe in 2010 and retaining that title to this day. With more than 35 billion songs sold to over 800 million users around the world, the iTunes Music Store remains the benchmark by which all music services are judged.


What is Apple Music and how does it work with my iTunes library?

As well as the iTunes Music Store, Apple also offers a music streaming service called Apple Music. Like Spotify, Apple Music lets you stream any song from its vast library to your smartphone or PC over the internet, regardless of whether you're at home or on-the-go. It'll cost you, though, with a standard Apple Music subscription setting you back $11.99 a month.

If you've already built up a sizable music collection through the iTunes Music Store, subscribing to Apple Music will let you stream all those songs just as easily as any in the Apple Music library. Even if your iTunes collection contains songs that aren't normally available on Apple Music, those songs will simply be uploaded from your PC or Mac to Apple's iCloud service and linked to your Apple Music library for you to stream.

What features does the iTunes Music Store offer?

The iTunes Music Store might be the oldest digital storefront on the market, but a steady rollout of new features has kept it from growing stale. The most notable of these are:

What music is available on the iTunes Music Store?

The iTunes Music Store boasts the largest library of digital music in the world. Over 43 million songs are available to purchase, including the latest tracks from popular artists like Kesha and Lady Gaga, unforgettable classics from Aussie favourites like Jimmy Barnes and Cold Chisel, and the freshest underground sounds from names you've never heard of before. The library is constantly growing, too, with new tracks added every single week.

As impressive as the iTunes Music Store's library is, it's not without its limitations. Some songs can only be purchased as part of an album rather than individually, for example. This is often the case for movie soundtracks. In contrast, certain albums are only available as partial purchases, with one or more tracks from their physical CD version missing, typically due to licensing issues.

On the technical side of things, all music on the iTunes Music Store is encoded at 256kbit/s in Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format.

What devices are compatible with iTunes?

The iTunes Music Store can only be browsed from Apple devices and computers running Apple's iTunes software. iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches can access the store through their pre-installed iTunes Store app. Mac and PC users can download the iTunes desktop program and peruse the store that way.

Songs downloaded from the iTunes Music Store can be played on any device that supports the AAC file format – unfortunately, few devices outside of the Apple family are compatible with the format. Other than iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, you can listen to your iTunes library on PC, Mac and Apple TV.

When accessing your iTunes library from multiple devices, those devices will become tied to your iTunes account. You can have a maximum of 10 devices associated with your account at a time, and no more than five of them can be computers. If you hit the 10-device limit, you can de-authorise individual devices to make room for new ones. After you de-authorise a device, you may need to wait up to 90 days before you can associate it with another iTunes account.

How much does music cost on the iTunes Music Store?

Songs in the iTunes Music Store follow a three-tier pricing model: they are priced at either $1.19, $1.69 or $2.19 each. Which price a song will cost usually depends on how recent and how popular it is. Album pricing varies based on similar factors, as well as how many tracks the album includes. Some albums can be picked up for as little as $9.99, while others sell for $24.99 or more.


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