(CNN) -- On April 28, 2003, Apple threw open the virtual doors to its iTunes Store, and music -- all digital media, really -- hasn't been the same since.
Suddenly, an industry terrified of online piracy had a legitimate place to earn money from the sale of digital music. Listeners no longer had to drive to their neighborhood record store (remember those?) to buy that new album by Norah Jones or 50 Cent. A song cost only 99 cents, a bargain next to an $18 CD. And iTunes-powered iPods, with their signature white earbuds, became a must-have mobile accessory.
Not everyone was thrilled. Record labels grumbled at being strong-armed over song prices by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Some ...view middle of the document...
You could cherry-pick whatever songs you wanted instead of paying extra for the filler on an album or -- heaven forbid -- for a CD single.
And sure enough, sales of songs far outpace sales of whole albums on iTunes. One downside of this is that artists have less incentive to make thematic concept albums. It's hard to envision what the impact of "Sgt. Pepper" or "OK Computer" might have been in the iTunes era.
It rewarded impatience
Here's the way it used to work: You'd hear a song on the radio. You'd have to figure out what it was (a challenge in the days before Shazam). You'd drive to a mall. You'd search for the record. You'd buy the record -- if it was in stock. You'd put it in your CD player or on your turntable. Finally, you'd get to listen.
Now: Hear song, download song. Instant gratification.
If the Internet has made the world's knowledge accessible to almost anybody with a computer, iTunes has done the same with music. According to Apple, the iTunes store now stocks more than 26 million songs, many of which aren't about Taylor Swift's ex-boyfriends.
Now, whether it's Javanese...