iTunes Music to Apple’s Pocketbook

Does Apple Computer know something about music that the other pay-download sites don’t?

The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker Monday said it has reached more than 1 million downloads on its new iTunes Music Store since the company launched the 99-cent per song service last week. Similar offerings from pressplay and Rhapsody took nearly a month or two before hitting their million download marks.

“In less than one week we’ve broken every record and become the largest online music company in the world,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement.

Granted that more than half of the songs purchased were packaged together as albums, which run between $4 and $18 a pop, but taking out the reported 60 percent cut to the labels and that means Apple just made an estimated $2.3 million in a week. Not a bad chunk of change for a company whose desktop market share is under 3 percent. Industry executives were of course pleasantly surprised with the results.

“Hitting one million songs in less than a week was totally unexpected,” Warner Music Group chairman and CEO Roger Ames. “Apple has shown music fans, artists and the music industry as a whole that there really is a successful and easy way of legally distributing music over the Internet.”

Apple also reported that over one million free copies of iTunes 4 have been downloaded, and that it has received orders for over 110,000 new third-generation iPods since their introduction a week ago. The Macintosh maker said upwards of 20,000 of the third generation units were snapped up during in-store events this past weekend.

The news is also a win for Akamai Technologies , which is Apple’s power streaming partner for media downloads.

As part of its expanding library, Apple said Tuesday, May 6, the iTunes Music Store will be adding over 3,200 new tracks, including major new album releases such as Jack Johnson’s “On and On,” Andrea Bocelli’s “Tosca” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Say You Will,” as well as pre-release tracks from upcoming albums by artists David Sanborn, The RH Factor, John Scofield, Jesse Harris and Lizz Wright. Also to be added tomorrow are additional albums from the Eagles, Michelle Branch’s album “The Spirit Room,” and new Featured Artist pages for Coldplay, including an exclusive track and music video, and Alanis Morissette, with her catalog of music.

The current iTunes Music Store features over 200,000 songs from major music companies including BMG, EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal, and Warner.

The store offers 30-second demos and lets users burn songs onto an unlimited number of CDs for personal use, listen to songs on an unlimited number of iPods, play songs on up to three registered Macintosh computers, and use songs in other applications on the Mac, including iPhoto, iMovie and iDVD.

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