(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 musicians complained that they didn't earn enough royalties from digital-music sales.
But by 2010, iTunes was the largest music retailer on the planet. Today, it has 435 million registered users in 119 countries and recently served up its 25 billionth song, downloaded by a man in Germany. iTunes also now sells much more than music: Customers can download movies, TV shows, games, books, podcasts and more.
The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs upended the music landscape with the iTunes store, launched in April 2003.
In recent months, Apple's retail juggernaut has shown signs of weakness. Recent figures show that its growth may finally be slowing down. And services such as Pandora, Spotify, Rdio and others, which allow users to stream songs for free or a modest monthly fee, are supplanting iTunes among many young listeners.
But its arrival 10 years ago this week was a sea change for anyone who makes, distributes or enjoys listening to music.
CNNMoney: The Evolution of iTunes
Here's a look at some ways iTunes changed music, and us:
It celebrated the song, not the album
In February, Apple announced that the 25 bilionth song had been downloaded from iTunes by a German man.
Thanks to iTunes, all of a sudden, you didn't have to buy that Chumbawamba record to get "Tubthumping" (the "I get knocked down" song). 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…