iTunes Store at 15: How Apple killed the mixtape

Tomorrow “marks the 15th anniversary of Apple’s iTunes Store,” Joe Sommerlad writes for The Independent. “The desktop music and video vendor was launched on 28 April 2003 and took just five years to become America’s biggest music retailer.”

“Apple founder Steve Jobs had observed the popularity of Napster and illegal mp3 downloads and recognised the coming need for a legitimate alternative, quickly agreeing licensing deals with major record labels,” Sommerlad writes. “Apple’s revolutionary iPod and iTunes media player had been released two years previously and the Store would serve to feed their appetite for new tracks and albums, leaving the high street lagging behind and wondering what hit it.”

“In a matter of years, Apple’s innovations had completely changed the way in which we bought and played recorded music. One of the casualties of this progression was the humble mixtape,” Sommerlad writes. “However personal the tracks on a playlist might be, however carefully curated, the very ease with which they can be compiled means they can never represent a labour of love to the same degree as their 1990s ancestors… Mixtapes were fiddly to make, an arduous business of recording from one device on to another – their very existence testament to the creator’s desire and commitment to making something unique, just for you.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: You’d also want to time it out right, so that neither side of the cassette had too much blank tape at the end. It was certainly a process.


  1. And now for the real history of iTunes and playlists. Share and Enjoy:

    SoundJam MP was an early classic Mac OS-compatible MP3 player and Rio-compatible hardware synchronization manager that was released in July 1998 and was available until June 2001. Jeff Robbin and Bill Kincaid developed SoundJam MP with assistance from Dave Heller. Robbin and Kincaid chose Casady & Greene to publish SoundJam MP. Apple, Inc. purchased SoundJam MP in 2000 and further developed the code to create iTunes version 1.0. Casady and Greene ceased publication of SoundJam MP in June 2001 at the request of the developers….

    Note the playlist:

  2. For me, iTunes is getting flakier all the time. I am seriously thinking of splitting our library and because the constant beachballs and corrupted index is getting annoying. Metadata on files appears edited on the screen and then the next day suddenly reverts to the previous erroneous tag. Lost music files. The “Sort As” field is endless frustration.

    It never should have become the mess that is is now. iTunes needs to be split into 4 separate applications:

    1) Personal music and video collection
    2) music and video rental
    3) podcasts and iTunes U
    4) apps management and backups for iOS products

    maybe even a 5th: news. This of course assumes that Apple News isn’t the next Ping.

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