iTunes at one: more than 70 million songs sold

Wednesday, April 28th marks the one-year anniversary of Apple's iTunes Music Store. The company has announced that since the iTunes Music Store opened, it's sold more than 70 million songs -- well short of the 100 million song target that Apple CEO Steve Jobs mentioned last October, but still exceeding Apple's "wildest expectations," according to Jobs.

"The unbeatable combination of iTunes and the market-leading iPod offers music fans a seamless experience for discovering, buying, managing and enjoying their music anywhere," said Jobs in a statement.

Apple said that iTunes customers are buying 2.7 million songs per week. At its current run rate, iTunes Music Store will sell 140 million songs per year. The store now features more than 700,000 songs from the five major music companies and more than 450 independent music labels.

The anniversary date marks Apple's unveiling of its "third-generation" iTunes Music Store and an upgrade to iTunes itself. New features in the iTunes Music Store include music videos, charts from more than 1,000 radio stations, the ability to publish "iMix" playlists, and more.

iTunes also adds support for a new "lossless" audio codec that enables users to rip music from their CDs with no perceptible loss of quality, at half the sizes of their uncompressed form. iTunes also gains a "Party Shuffle" feature that automatically chooses songs, displays just-played and upcoming songs, and lets users add, delete and rearrange songs on the fly. Users can also create and print CD jewel case inserts from directly within iTunes, and Windows users can automatically convert unprotected Windows Media Audio (WMA)-format files to Advanced Audio Codec (AAC).

What's more, the Digital Rights Management (DRM) of iTunes Music Store-bought songs has been reworked. Now users can play the music they buy on up to five computers -- it was previously limited to three. Users can only burn the same playlist to seven CDs, however -- that limit used to be ten. Single songs can still be burned an unlimited number of times, and protected music can be played back on an unlimited number of iPods.

"Free Single of the Week" is another new feature of the new iTunes Music Store. But to celebrate its first anniversary, the iTunes Music Store is giving away a free song of the day for the next eight days. Participating artists include Foo Fighters, Avril Lavigne, Courtney Love, Annie Lennox, Jane's Addiction, Counting Crows, Renee Fleming and Nelly Furtado.

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