Brief History of Apple Music
While Spotify might have been the first mover in the streaming space, Apple really pioneered digital downloads at scale with the launch of iTunes in 2001.
The precursor to iTunes was an early mp3 player called SoundJam MP, which was originally released by Macintosh software publisher Casady & Greene in 1998. Apple acquired the company in 2000, relaunching SoundJam as iTunes a year later.
With its CD burning, playlist building, digital retail, and multi-format audio capabilities, iTunes would dominate the digital music space for the next decade. During the early 2000s, after all, the sale of mp3s was the best means the industry had to monetize digital music in an effort to combat piracy.
Importantly, Apple revolutionized digital music not just through software innovation but through hardware innovation, making digital music consumption possible on the go, thanks to handheld devices like the iPod and the iPhone.
But the company was still banking on an ownership model rather than a leasing model, leaving the door open for a software application like Spotify to pilot the latter model through streaming. In 2015, however, Apple followed suit with the roll-out of the Apple Music streaming platform, which grew from 10 million subscribers to almost 60 million subscribers in just five years.
In 2018, Apple acquired music recognition startup Shazam for $400 million, adding a new data and discovery source to their already robust catalog of digital audio-related verticals. Just a year later, Apple Music launched its own analytics back-end, Apple Music for Artists, which includes play counts, geographic data, purchases, and Shazams, making Apple Music analytics one of the essential tools for artists and their teams to have at their disposal.