Apple sells a million mp3s its first week. Music Store's early success, fueled largely by U2 fans, suggests a viable legal alternative to file swapping

By Gary Susman
Updated May 05, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Hmm, maybe this legal music downloading thing will catch on after all. Apple reported on Monday that its new iTunes Music Store, touted as the cheapest and most user-friendly alternative to illicit file-swapping services, sold 1 million songs during its first week of operation. Plus, despite fears that the service’s flat 99 cents-per-song fee structure would discourage album sales, more than half the songs were purchased as albums. Record industry poobahs couldn’t be happier. ”Our internal measure of success was having the iTunes Music Store sell one million songs in the first month,” said Doug Morris, CEO of Universal Music Group. ”To do this in one week is an over-the-top success.”

Of the Music Store’s library of 200,000 songs, provided by all five of the major record labels, more than half were downloaded at least once, Apple said, suggesting that fans of all musical genres were using the surface. Still, the store’s website keeps a constantly updated display of the most downloaded tracks, and at press time, three of the top 10 were by U2, whose ”Stuck in a Moment” topped the list. (Other top mp3s: Coldplay’s ”Clocks” and ”In My Place”; Eminem’s ”Lose Yourself” and ”The Way I Am”; Sheryl Crow’s ”Soak Up the Sun”; Norah Jones’ ”Don’t Know Why”; and Sting’s ”January Stars.”) On Tuesday, the site will add 3,200 new tracks, including the new albums by Fleetwood Mac and Andrea Bocelli, and catalog albums by The Eagles, Michelle Branch, and Alanis Morissette.