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iTunes song downloads hit 10 billion

Music fans have downloaded more than 10 billion songs from the iTunes Music Store, Apple has announced.

The target was reached at around 1am this morning. Apple is giving away a $10,000 (€7,400) iTunes gift voucher to mark the occasion, and is expected to announce the winner in the next few days.

Apple has also released a list of the 20 most-downloaded songs of all time. Topping the chart is I Gotta Feeling, by the Black Eyed Peas, with Lady GaGa's Poker Face at number two. Coldplay's Viva La Vida is the highest-placed entry for a British act at number five, while Leona Lewis's Bleeding Love is at number nine. Hey There, Delilah by the Plain White Ts is a surprise entry at number 18.

Although Apple released iTunes in 2001, it was initially only used as a way to organise a user's music collection for playback on a computer or iPod. In 2003, Apple opened the iTunes Music Store, which allowed users to buy and download songs from a library of more than 200,000 tracks.

Apple has been credited with kick-starting the digital music revolution with the launch of the iPod and iTunes, and it has gone on to dominate the music market, much to the irritation of some record labels, which disliked Apple's initial flat pricing structure, and the way it allowed people to pick their favourite tracks from an album rather than have to buy the full CD.

"iTunes changed the way you buy music, making songs and albums available for download, day or night," said Apple. "Seven years later, we’re about to celebrate our biggest milestone for music, yet — 10 billion songs downloaded."

Despite the huge success of the iTunes store, some artists, including The Beatles, have not made their music available for digital download, preferring instead to continue with sales of physical CDs.

In the last financial quarter, the iTunes Music Store generated $520m (€386m) of revenue for Apple, according to Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray.

© Telegraph.co.uk