Apple introduced the first iPod 13 years ago yesterday on October 23, 2001. It was 8 1/2 months after the Mac only version of iTunes had been released. While there were other digital music services and players already on the market, the seamless coupling of iTunes and the iPod marked the official beginning or the digital music revolution. As Steve Jobs said that day:
“Music is part of everybody’s life, everyone! Music’s been around for ever (and) it will always be around. This is not a speculative market. And because its part of everybody’s life, it’s a very large target market all around the world. It knows no boundaries
Not only could you buy almost any track for 99 cents instead of the full album; you could now carry 1000+ tracks around in your pocket.
The digital music revolution had arrived, but what did that mean for artists and labels?
Clearly it empowered the little guy – no longer did you need to use a major music company to get your music into the hands of consumers globally. Companies like TuneCore, Reverb Nation, Bandzoogle and Bandcamp would be founded to empower the artist. But 99 cent digital tracks instead of $15 CDs also meant less revenue. And then there was the troubling fact that Apple’s closed eco-system meant someone new controlled our music purchases.
There is, of course, no turning back.
13 years later we’re deep into phase 2 of the digital music revolution. Consumers are embracing access over ownership and their wake creating an even murkier revenue picture for artist and labels. And while there are a multitude of alternatives to the iPod as a music delivery device, Apple is still the dominate player in music. And as their purchase of Beats and Beats Music confirm, they intend to keep it that way.
Watch Steve Jobs introduce the first iPod: