Apple today launched its revolutionary iTunes Music Store in the UK, France and Germany giving music fans in those regions the same large online catalogue, à la carte pricing, free previews, one-click purchasing and downloading, and personal use rights that US users have been enjoying since April 28th 2003.
The company also today announced that it will launch a European Union version of the iTunes Music Store in October of this year.
“The number one online music store in the world has finally come to the UK, France and Germany,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “With a huge catalogue of over 700,000 songs, breakthrough prices of just €0.99 and £0.79 per song and seamless integration with Apple’s wildly popular iPod, we think this is the digital music store that Europe has been waiting for.”
The iTunes Music Store in the UK, France and Germany all feature over 700,000 songs from all five major music companies and dozens of independent record labels, including exclusive tracks from leading worldwide artists, including songs from Anastasia, Ash, The Beastie Boys, Beginner, Black Eyed Peas, The Corrs, Jamie Cullum, The Cure, The Darkness, Arielle Dombasle, Bebel Gilberto, Herbert Groenemeyer, PJ Harvey, The Hives, Indochine, Norah Jones, Keane, Bob Marley, George Michael, Eddy Mitchell, Moby, Pascal Obispo, The Pixies, Rosenstolz, Seeed, Snow Patrol and Mano Solo. The iTunes Music Store will be releasing its first ever iTunes Originals in-studio series featuring an exclusive recording session and interview clips with Alanis Morissette.
“I am the type of artist who wants to reach a lot of people, and the iTunes Music Store is the best way in the world to do that,” said Grammy-award winning singer/songwriter Alicia Keys. “With iTunes, Apple has taken music distribution and promotion to a new level that can be embraced by fans and artists alike.”
Usage rights and features
Offering the same personal-use rights as in the US, the iTunes Music Store in the UK, France and Germany gives users the ability to play songs on up to five personal computers, burn a single song onto CDs an unlimited number of times, burn the same playlist up to seven times, and listen to their music on an unlimited number of iPods. The iTunes Music Store in the UK, France and Germany offers Mac and PC users the same features, including:
iMix, an innovative way for users to publish playlists of their favourite songs on the iTunes Music Store for other users to preview, rate and purchase. iMix creates a virtual iTunes community, enabling users to discover new music recommended by fellow music fans and rate the iMixes published by other iTunes users;
Party Shuffle, a playlist that automatically chooses songs from a user’s music library, displays just-played and upcoming songs, and allows users to easily add, delete and rearrange upcoming songs on the fly. Party Shuffle is the ultimate DJ at any gathering and a great way for users to get reacquainted with their personal music library;
More than 5,000 audiobooks which can be purchased with one click and listened to on any Mac or Windows computer as well as on iPods;
Instant registration on the iTunes Music Store for AOL Europe customers using their existing screen names and passwords with direct links to buy songs from the iTunes Music Store in the UK, France and Germany. Exclusive recordings from Sessions@AOL and AOL’s Broadband Rocks will be available on the iTunes Music Store in the UK, France and Germany later this month;
The ability to create and print CD jewel-case inserts for albums or compilation discs, combining album art and track lists using professionally designed templates. For compilation CDs, iTunes will automatically generate a mosaic of album covers based on the chosen songs; and
Automatic WMA (Windows Media Audio) to AAC conversion, enabling Windows users to automatically create iTunes versions of their songs encoded in unprotected WMA.
Pricing & availability
iTunes for Mac and Windows includes the iTunes Music Store and is available as a free download immediately from www.apple.com/uk/itunes, www.apple.com/fr/itunes and www.apple.com/de/itunes.
Purchase and download of songs from the iTunes Music Store for Mac or Windows requires a valid credit card with a British, French or German billing address. The iTunes Music Store works with the British Pound in the UK and the Euro in France and Germany.
Notes from the announcement
11.13 am: Apple CEO Steve Jobs takes the stage:
"We're here to talk about iTunes obviously. We have sold over 85 million songs. It's amazing. In just over one year. We have 70 per cent market share in the US," he said.
"The UK, Germany and France – these three represent over 62 per cent of Europe's music sales and a huge chunk of world sales. All the rest of the services are just 30 per cent. iTunes really competes with piracy, not the other services. Piracy is the big enemy – the market has shrunk in France and Germany and seen zero growth in the UK," Jobs added.
He rounded on online music theft, saying: "Let's understand piracy first: I found you get really unreliable downloads. You have to try several times to get the song, and then you get it and find it was encoded by a ten year old with four seconds is missing at the end. You don't get to listen first, you don't get artwork, and it's stealing. We offer fast, reliable downloads from our vast server farms – we are very very good at this. It's not stealing, it's good Karma."
"You own the music. No subscription fees. The experiment has been done – people don't want to rent the music, they want to own it. If I have to pay ten dollars a month to listen to my favourite song, that's $1,000 after ten years. I don't want to do that, I want to own my music," he said.
Jobs then took the audience through the usage rights, which are identical to those in the US. "You own the music," he said. Jobs also explained how the service works.
"Web-site music stores suck," he said. "They don't work." Jobs explained how the buying interface and jukebox work as a standalone application that integrates together. "Some people say iTunes is the best Windows software ever written," Jobs said proudly.
"This is how we have competed with piracy – we are offering a far better service."
Jobs then discussed what's available:
• 5,000 books (with three-minute previews).
• Gift certificates – from £5-£100 in the UK.
• French and German certificates in Euros.
• Celebrity playlists: The Darkness; Herbie Hancock; Moby; Dave Brubeck: "There are a lot of these in there and there are more coming every day," Jobs explained.
• Music videos: Jobs showed Jamie Cullen's 'All at Sea' video.
"Last month we got something really cool we just added – it's called iMix", Jobs said, explaining the way Apple's community-based way of sharing and rating music playlists works. "Less than sixty days since we turned on iMix we had over 50,000 playlists and over 100,000 votes," he said.
Jobs showed that 700,000 tracks are available for download now, including tracks from all the major labels and hundreds of independents – the independents want their tracks on iTunes because it's the biggest and best service in the world, he said. Classical music is also available.
The songs cost 79 pence each: "every song in the store costs 79 pence, and albums cost £7.99."
In Germany, each song costs 99c, and most albums cost €9.99. Prices are the same in France. Each store will have local content, Jobs said.
"We are working on a pan-European store that we hope to have up by October, but these three stores are available today," he added.
Jobs then showed the press and guests assembled for the announcement through iTunes' features: CD burning, album cover art, Party Shuffle; and Rendezvous-based music sharing between iTunes users.
Peter Lowe (marketing manager at Apple) was invited onstage to demonstrate wireless streaming of songs. He used a Windows notebook (which appeared to be an HP model).
Jobs also showed the essential simplicity of the system for song buying – one single click is all that's required. "All song previews are at the same high quality as the songs themselves," he said, as he previewed a Ray Charles track.
Album prices vary through the service – Bowie at the Beeb costs £9.48. He looks at David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix and Alicia Keys. Jobs also confessed that "Mary Poppins" is one of his favourite Disney soundtracks.
Jobs also showed the audio books feature. Two prices were shown: one at £9.95, the other at £12.95.
He then moved along to show the German store, which is fully localized, as is the French, including some local artist repertoire.
"All three stores open today, after this presentation," he said.
"Together, these four territories represent 60 per cent of the world's music sales".
"We thought about where they listen to music. The first one is the computer. Probably the second-most popular way to listen to music is the iPod – 3,000,000 iPods have been sold as of the end of March; iPod has 50 per cent of the market as of March. We can't make some of them fast enough”, he said, adding that the rate of purchase is rising fast.
“Later this year we are hoping to make some announcements for in-car listening,” Jobs added.
"It turns out there's a huge iPod economy, with 250 products out there," he said, citing Altec Lansing et al.
"We shipped the first wireless networking on a computer in 1999. Last year we were the first to ship a faster version, 802.11g. And last week we were the first to annnounce a portable Base Station, AirPort Express," Jobs said.
"It works with both Mac and PC and is fully integrated with iTunes. We think we've nailed the living room with this – which ships next month for £99," he said.
Jobs went on: "We think we have the most popular place to listen to music – well, we're well on the road. We combine this with the most popular place to buy music, with iTunes Music Store."
Jobs also mentioned: "Some people have said iTunes is the best Windows application ever written: if that's not the definition of irony, I don't know what is."
"One of the reasons we are doing this is because we love music too. It all comes down to artists - it's about the music. We love having exclusive content; we love working with the artists," Jobs enthused.
"We are very lucky today, as we have with us 23-year old Alicia Keys. She's touring at the moment, but she took time to be with us here today. Five times Grammy-award winner, Alicia Keys…"
Keys walks on stage, Jobs walks off. Audience applauds.
"I love iTunes and have it on my computer. I'm a big fan of older music. In tribute to Ray Charles we are just gonna have a little fun in here. We're gonna miss Ray Charles," she said, and launched into 'Night and Day'.
"You know the nighttime is the best time to listen to iTunes," she jokes mid-song, repeating this at the end.
"The other thing I really love about iTunes is the fact that you can get exclusives there. I have an exclusive available on iTunes, and I'm gonna play it now," she said.
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