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Media (Apple) Music The Almighty Buck

Why Won't Apple Sell Your iTunes LPs? 306

jfruhlinger writes "Over the weekend there's been a bit of controversy over the fact that Apple has effectively shut indie artists out of the iTunes LP market by charging $10,000 in design fees. But the real question is why Apple is in charge of designing the new iTunes LP at all, since the format is based on open Web design technologies. There's at least one iTunes LP already available outside the iTunes store. Why won't Apple sell it?"
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Why Won't Apple Sell Your iTunes LPs?

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  • LP? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @09:54AM (#29731239) Journal
    I don't use iTunes so I must be missing something. Do they sell Long Play records on iTunes or does LP stand for something else?
    • Re:LP? (Score:4, Funny)

      by Cheesetrap ( 1597399 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @09:58AM (#29731279)

      It's part of that retro-is-new thing, all the kids are doing it, it's alltuhh-9ytujhff all the rage (sorry, electric typewriter keys got stuck - one of the hazards of being cool).

      • Re:LP? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Cheesetrap ( 1597399 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @10:12AM (#29731415)

        Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, what they're calling an 'LP' is essentially a DVD-style menu for your album. With pics, lyrics and bio - you know, the kind of stuff any 5-year-old can get from google or can be auto-loaded by many modern music players (WinAMP, Amarok, take your pick).

        So on a scale of usefulness from "necessary for human survival" to "would rather have my balls in a vise", it scores about a "meh".

        • Re:LP? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by mmeister ( 862972 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @11:01AM (#29732085)

          Actually, there is more. They showed the Doors LP which contained exclusive interviews and other video media. The idea is to get you to buy the whole album instead of just a track or two. I don't think they're really charging much more for it, maybe an extra $1, although the one's I've looked at seem to contain more songs than the standard album.

          Whether it works out or not, I at least give them credit for trying to add some additional value to the digital media and provide some better incentives to buying whole albums.

          • Re:LP? (Score:5, Informative)

            by jitterman ( 987991 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @11:11AM (#29732223)
            Another example: the new Alice In Chains release includes a few tracks that are (according to iTunes) not on the CD release. For all those who are completists and want to stay "legal" will probably think this is a good thing. Also, the cost of the album is (for now) $9.99, whereas the cost of the various tracks (and you can't get the bonus tracks without buying the album, so they don't even count towards this cost) add up to more than that.
            • Re:LP? (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Khyber ( 864651 ) <> on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:59PM (#29735217) Homepage Journal

              According to itunes it's not on the Cd release, but in just a couple of years when a new compilation album comes out it'll be very likely guaranteed that those tracks will be on the disc.

              I've got a pre-Sap/Jar of Flies dual demo vinyl with the AiC logo engraved on the back - a REAL LP with songs never released on the official albums and STILL unreleased to this day.

              iTunes doesn't have any real exclusives - those that actually know the band have the real exclusives that the rest of the world will never hear. Another example, "The Prince," written by Diamond Head and covered by Metallica, was originally on the Black Album (The Thompson Original Master Tape, anyways) and never made it to the final cut, instead appearing later as a b-side to One and Harvester of Sorrow singles and on the Garage, Inc album. Also, the original title to song #5 on the same Black Album - "Whereever I May Road" yes, not roam, ROAD.

              There hasn't been a real "exclusive" in the music market since digital distribution. No mispresses, no off-recordings, nothing that makes anything unique and awesome anymore. Can't carve a shitload of grooves into an optical disc like we did with a vinyl LP and still expect it to play!

          • It's an interesting move, but honestly I don't think many people will go back to buying whole albums again. I purchase indvidual tracks because that's all I'm interested in. Heck not having to buy the whole CD is 90% of the appeal of online sales. If I WAS going to buy the whole album online I'd just get the CD and rip it myself, with the bitrate that I want, and have a physical backup.

            The also have tried with some tracks recently to pull this "Available by Album Only" stunt where you can only get that t

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          "So on a scale of usefulness from "necessary for human survival" to "would rather have my balls in a vise", it scores about a "meh"."

          I'm confused. Given some people's attitude towards human survival and what is necessary for it, and some people's attitude towards, er, exotic activities between consenting adults, I have no clue where "meh" sits in the spectrum you've specified.

    • by alen ( 225700 )


      they want you to buy a whole album and not a few songs so they sell you an LP which is all the songs, a few videos, and DVD type making of crap that you can only view on a computer

    • Re:LP? (Score:5, Informative)

      by LordKronos ( 470910 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @10:08AM (#29731359)

      The LP is part of the move toward providing a more complete product back like they did with CDs, cassettes, and vinyl. With those things, you typically got extra stuff, like elaborate cover and inside art, and song lyrics, and with CDs there could be a data track with videos and other stuff. These are things that have gone by the wayside with digital downloads. Now that we are reaching the point where CD's are becoming a thing of the past for a much larger number of people, there has been an outcry about the loss of all of those extras. The digital LP is a focus to get those things back, so you can have all your extras for the complete experience.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by PRMan ( 959735 )

        Yeah, it's too bad that MP3s can't store lyrics and additional artwork...

        • by alen ( 225700 )

          the format was created back in the 1990's when PMPs with 32MB storage were high end

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by cyxxon ( 773198 )
            The post by PRMan was sarcasm... you can store lyrics and additional art in mp3s...
      • Re:LP? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Darth_brooks ( 180756 ) <clipper377&gmail,com> on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @10:36AM (#29731693) Homepage

        The digital LP is a focus to get those things back, so you can have all your extras for the complete experience.

        How are you supposed to sort the seeds out of pot on the back of a digital LP?

        • Re:LP? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @11:08AM (#29732183) Journal

          How are you supposed to sort the seeds out of pot on the back of a digital LP?

          Stop buying schwag and the problem takes care of itself ;)

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          We always started the year out right by liberating one of the nice fiberglass trays from the student union cafeteria. Worked way better than an LP cover and the lip kept seeds and stems out of your lap.

          You had to get a fiberglass tray as opposed to one of the plastic ones; only the fiberglass trays had a hard, smooth surface that could be scraped clean with your student ID. The plastic trays usually had some lame pebbly finish or some other embossed design that prevented a thorough cleaning.

          LP covers were

      • >>>Now that we are reaching the point where CD's are becoming a thing of the past for a much larger number of people

        I hope CDs don't die.

        It's still the only way to get uncompressed music. Some discs even have full surround sound encoding. The compressed AACs sold on itunes sound like crap on a full-sized 5-speaker stereo.

        • Indeed, the quality between cd vs vinyl is slightly arguable (in weather you can hear it). The difference between cd and shitty mp3's etc is not.
        • It's not "compressed" but it's still digitally encoded. iTunes are at low quality now because they don't want people maxing out their monthly bandwidth allotment downloading music, and they don't want to completely fill up people's hard drives with their music collection either. Plus, you don't want to have to re-encode all your music to put it on your MP3 player. However, going to digital downloads is the only way to move beyond CD quality sound. There have been a couple competitors to CDs including DVD
      • >> there has been an outcry about the loss of all of those extras

        From who? I think this favors the record labels (and Apple) more than anybody else.
      • Re:LP? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CarpetShark ( 865376 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @10:51AM (#29731919)

        The digital LP is a focus to get those things back, so you can have all your extras for the complete experience.

        Ahh, so it's like a torrent that comes complete with cover art and an nfo file, then, but overpriced? ;)

      • by JCCyC ( 179760 )

        The LP is part of the move toward making you buy a bunch of songs you don't want like they did with CDs, cassettes, and vinyl.


      • Yeah, but it doesn't work (at least for me) because all that stuff you get is still in digital form. You can't page through the lyrics, or hand it to your friend in the same room so he can look at the lyrics. You still have to be huddled around this computer. Which nobody really wants to do in a group. And if I was alone at my computer, I'd probably just google some new images/videos from their latest concert if I wanted to look at images, instead of looking at the same images/videos over and over again.
    • Re:LP? (Score:4, Informative)

      by MagicM ( 85041 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @10:08AM (#29731365)

      From gizmodo []:

      iTunes LPs: These are effectively like bonus CDs for digital albums. Each one comes with extra songs that you only get if you plunk down nearly $20 on the whole album -- you can't download these individually. Along with that, you get video content -- in most cases, live concert recordings -- as well as photo albums and lyrics, which serve as a sort of modern-day liner notes, I guess? It's a bit like buying one of those loaded-up "Digipack" CDs record companies used to release, except on iTunes.

      • by RDW ( 41497 )

        If this format actually takes off and Apple insists on charging labels $10,000 per LP, expect:

        (1) A lot more user-packaged LPs like the Tryad album. For proprietary recordings, these could be distributed minus the tracks without incurring the wrath of the more clueful artists and their labels (though some will inevitably get upset).

        (2) Official complete LPs available for purchase via band and label websites or 3rd party distributors, or as free downloadable add-ons for already purchased tracks.

        (3) Interacti

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by robmv ( 855035 )

          (5) Apple start blocking those LPs not made by Apple on iTunes, they will add a hash to verify who build them

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by jonadab ( 583620 )
      In the context of music, LP means a black vinyl record designed to be played on a turntable (usually at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute, sometimes at 45). They were popular in the sixties, but by the mid eighties they'd been pretty well totally phased out in favor of audio cassette tapes.

      But, you know, everything old is new again. Audiophiles claim that LPs have a better sound (or a "warmer" sound, or they use various other audiophile jargon to describe it), which, although the improvement is not measurable
    • Re:LP? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DECS ( 891519 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @04:59PM (#29736965) Homepage Journal

      The idea is that "iTunes LP" would serve as the non-song content you used to get when you bought an album: the beautiful LP cover, lyrics, and other stuff. But upgraded to the digital era.

      The problem with this non-story is that Apple isn't selling iTunes LP extras, it's giving it away when you buy the regular album associated with it.

      It was a defensive move to prevent the labels from inventing their own proprietary format instead. iTunes LPs are just self-contained websites built using web standards: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Apple created a JavaScript framework called TuneKit to allow these "self contained websites" to interact with iTunes, playing content etc.

      The same format is used to deliver iTunes Extras, the same bonus format for movies. Essentially, both are designed to make extremely easy to author bonus content that labels and studios (including indies) can use to add value to their existing work.

      Obviously, Apple doesn't want to launch the new format with a bunch of crap, and taint it with mocking commentary that equates garbage or wierdo music with the format. So it launched the new format with iTunes 9 using a dozen big music acts and a similar number of recent movies. There has been the typical hysterical fit from poorly sourced, half-right "tech news" pieces that claimed Apple hates indies and will charge $10,000 (!) to develop the titles.

      This is clearly all uninformed bullshit because there's no way Apple would develop content for third parties for just $10,000 a pop. Not even a professional authoring artist would do these for that kind of budget. Compare the free involved with authoring a DVD or BluRay disc, or creating all the artwork for a band's website or a multimedia CD-ROM.

      Slashdot picked up the story and keeps trying to bump it up into the air because it sounds bad for Apple. The reality is that this is the best possible album format design anyone in the FOSS community could have hoped for. It's open, you can built it yourself, and kids can even apply some remedial HTML skills to remix their own content downloads. It's the web with a minimal business model.

      New iTunes LP and Extras built using TuneKit Framework, aimed at Apple TV []
      Why Apple is betting on HTML 5: a web history []
      Apple plans to open iTunes LP for independent labels []

  • The answer is simple. The labels have made quiet little threats to pull hot product if Apple doesn't charge $10,000.
    • The answer is simple. The labels have made quiet little threats to pull hot product if Apple doesn't charge $10,000.

      You and some paranoid mods have been sipping from the same tainted batch of Kool-Aid.
      The simplest answer is that Apple is, once again, acting as a control freak.

      Never forget that Apple doesn't just provide a product, they provide an image. The roadblocks they've thrown up for the iTunes "LP" are there so they can control quality without a bitchfest every time they reject someone a la iPhone's App store. So while $10K & major labels is harsh and arbitrary, it allows them to manage the launch of their new

    • And Apple laughed and said, "Sure, we'll take that money of yours, thanks!" Threats? This is iTunes. The program that sells more digital music than anything else. The music companies have very little power over what Apple does.
    • You don't think Apple can be greedy and controlling on their own?
    • by Whalou ( 721698 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @11:46AM (#29732667)
      From Music Week ( []

      However, an iTunes spokesman says the fee is fiction. There is no production fee charged by Apple, he says. "We're releasing the open specs for iTunes LP soon, allowing both major and indie labels to create their own.

      Not sure who is right, this guy or the guy who quoted the 10k$ figure.

      I guess we'll have to wait and see. Or not if you're not interested in LPs.

  • XXS and other issues (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Foofoobar ( 318279 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @10:00AM (#29731301)
    It is quite likely that if they let people design their own LP's then Apple has to vet them for programming issues like cross site scripting especially if it allows HTML, Javascript or other languages to be active within them. And they just don't have the time to go over everyones code.

    In which case, they need to come up with a standardized couple of formats in which people can plug in artwork, videos and other data to create their own LP.
    • True - they should just use that famous Apple software innovation to create an IDE and then sell it... then anyone could create their own "LP" and distribute it... oh gawd I can only imagine what nice old aunt Betty will churn out for her grandkids and quilting club!!!

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by radtea ( 464814 )

      And they just don't have the time to go over everyones code.

      And don't have the competency to write some static screening tools that will reject all the XSS stuff etc?

      And don't have the legal chops to write contractual language that will let them pwn your ass if you do submit LP's with XSS etc in them?

      While putting a paywall up does have the advantage of creating a somewhat self-policing marketplace in this regard, my sense is that a $500 fee would do the same job and not exclude smaller players. It isn't t

      • Even if they could screen some things, the fear is that 1% could get through and even if you sue that 1 person, you now have 1000 people suing your company. What you may get out of that one person is nothing compared to what you will have to settle for or spend on court fees and lawyer costs with those 1000 other people suing you for not having some sort of disclaimer or letting that on your store in the first place.

        Regardless of whether this was Microsoft, Amazon or Apple, any company would be hard pres
    • "And they just don't have the time to go over everyones code."

      iPhone. App. Store.
  • That's easy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @10:04AM (#29731319) Homepage

    Because Apple is a big corporation primarly interested in making money. Getting $10000 in design fees is a handy way of making $10000 more then if they just let you put it up for free.

    • by teg ( 97890 )

      Also, what does the money get you? Does it just give you the ability to submit extra material? Or does it include things like increased exposure? If you get a more prominent spot, and thus sell more... it's no surprise that Apple would like to charge for that, just like brick and mortar stores. Another possibility is that they will roll it out gradually - and that early adopters just have to pay more.

      Until the format it supported in other devices (apple tv, ipods etc), it looks pretty irrelevant.

  • I might be able to answer that question if I knew what "LP" meant in this context; come on people, enough with the obscure acronyms, put what it means in the story summary.
    • by MBCook ( 132727 )

      LP. Long Play. Synonymous with record albums; you know the big black CD like things that you read with needles.

      It refers to iTunes songs with bonus content like pictures, lyrics, stories, video clips, etc attached instead of just bare music.

  • These things are a last attempt to try and make "albums" relevant. They don't matter. Albums are an ex-parrot. They're pushing up the daisies. They're singing in the... no, that's it, they're not singing at all. That's the problem. They're tragically unhip.

    • Re:Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ReneeJade ( 1649107 ) <> on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @10:35AM (#29731679)
      I disagree that albums are unhip or dead or anything like that. Anyone who is serious about their music knows that a complete LP should be, and often is, a single work of art. Many artists put a lot of effort into selecting and arranging songs on an album such that it reads like a single story. Albums may be dead among the teeny-boppers, but anyone over the age of 18 who loves music should appreciate the importance of albums. I agree with "who cares" though. I wish people would go down to their local CD shop and buy a record and support a small business instead of feeding some giant middle man like apple. Then you can read the lyrics, see the art, put the songs on your HDD, lend it to your family and do whatever you want with it. I hope albums and CD stores stay alive.
      • by argent ( 18001 )

        Anyone who is serious about their music knows that a complete LP should be, and often is, a single work of art.

        I've had a few albums that I would count as "works of art", not many, and they were all actual vinyl LPs. I loved Roger Dean's album covers, more than the music inside the sleeves in some cases, but CDs are too small a canvas to satisfy that desire, and so it's died out in my heart long since. CDs get ripped into iTunes as soon as I get them, and the shells lay in a bookshelf mortuary where I never

  • MP3 had a lot of crap, and by crap I don't mean "bad taste, but will sell reasonably well." It was the sort of stuff that is obscure because even with wide exposure it wouldn't get many fans.

    My guess is that Apple wants to discourage said bands from participating so that most of the stuff that gets on there is of decent quality by serious artists not some fly-by-night garage band that cobbled together a CD using an Audacity tutorial.

  • Why is Apple charging $10,000? Because they can (or at least, think they can). When they no longer can, they will reduce the price.

    In the case of Apple, they are betting that the 'majors' are willing to pay $10,000 to have Apple setup "iTunes LPs" for them. The article asks why Apple "controls" iTunes LPs, when they are based on open standards. My guess is that the answer is that, sure, anyone could create an iTunes LP, but Apple controls iTunes, so you can't publish your third-party created LP on iTunes, r

  • Marketing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bjourne ( 1034822 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @10:34AM (#29731671) Homepage Journal
    So that Slashdot will have something about it to write, to generate buzz about this new "iTunes LP" thing no one has ever heard about.
  • $10k to have your music get massive potential exposure via iTunes doesn't sound all that bad to me. Nobody is forcing the business model down peoples throat. iTunes isn't the be all, end all of music distribution. The alternative is open it all up for everyone until iTunes becomes as over congested and so full of crap that it is no better than youtube.
  • by chrisgeleven ( 514645 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @10:36AM (#29731703) Homepage []

    However, an iTunes spokesman says the fee is fiction. “There is no production fee charged by Apple,” he says. "We're releasing the open specs for iTunes LP soon, allowing both major and indie labels to create their own.”

  • Then why couldn't you sell the m4a files on iTunes, and just make an itlp file available on your website. DRM is gone now from iTunes. There is nothing to stop you from doing that.

  • The existence of a file format to encompass an EP or LP style collection of files is a nice idea. There exists .cbr and .cbz for comic book files and other such container formats, so why not for music files? And yeah, throw in a menu and some info, why not, .mkv does this for video files for those who want to use that aspect of the format. But I'm surprised that music lovers/developers haven't come up with something like this before, and I find it kind of funny that now Apple has got in there first and ther

  • Along with that, you get video content -- in most cases, live concert recordings

    So, I'm going to assume that this is the same stuff we get on youtube? Also I'm doubting if there are songs which are only available via the LP, then they probably won't be any good. Otherwise the radio stations would have crammed these into our skulls on a "repeat every 5 min" playlist.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @01:19PM (#29733865)

    Guess I could've stopped after typing the subject... but anyway. I'm old enough where I still have LPs in a box somewhere. Thinking back to how often I looked at the liner notes, extras, etc. - the total for a given album varies between zero and one. I just wanted the music back then, and that's the case now.

    I do find it funny (but not surprising; I've been on Slashdot too long to have high expectations) that people here are reacting with outrage, even though the story's been shown to be bogus - Apple says they're not charging a fee for this. Being the control freaks they usually are, they're working on opening it to everyone rather than just letting it out there: "We're releasing the open specs for iTunes LP soon, allowing both major and indie labels to create their own. There is no production fee charged by Apple."

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all different.