iTunes LP was Record Labels' Idea?

GigaOm is reporting that, contrary to speculation that Steve Jobs wanted to return us to a more analog time when we bought new albums and sank back for ours drinking in every liner note and detail, iTunes LP was actually the record labels' idea:

I’m told by an industry source who preferred to remain anonymous that iTunes LP wasn’t Apple’s idea in the first place. Rather, it’s the result of the same renegotiations between Apple and the major record labels that yielded DRM-free songs and flexible pricing early last year, a concession by Cupertino to make a gesture in favor of album sales as consumers increasingly show a preference for digital singles.

It's further said that Apple subsidized the first batch of iTunes LPs, whose production costs were an unbelievable $60,000. The more recent release of developer tools is seen as reducing that cost, and rumors persist of an iDVD-like replacement application from Apple that would work to make iTunes LP and iTunes Extra.

Either way, enthusiasm among artists and Apple itself seems to be low, though just over double the amount of iTunes LPs are available now than were at launch. GigaOm suggests artists are also interested in the App Store as a way to provide extra content to consumers, which might split focus for iTunes LP.

In terms of pushing the format forward, it's now supported by Apple TV (stuttering though it may be), but there's been no sign of support for the 75 million iPhone and iPod touch devices on the market. It will be supported by the iPad, however, though Apple hasn't been pushing iTunes LP as a selling point so far.

Have you bought an iTunes LP? Are you interested in the format going forward?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iTunes LP was Record Labels' Idea?


Looking at album art was cool when you had to sit in front of a record player or CD player to listen to music. Now people are walking, exercising, driving, etc. Plus, people use to use album covers to put drugs on and a computer monitor doesn't work. Maybe the iPad will bring it back.

@statcoder Ha good point. I remember my dad braking up the grass on old supertramp and rush albums. Which I still have to this day. And continue his practices.

Totally off topic but ...where has Qik Video Cam gone from the app store??? It was in the top 10 paid apps the other day & now it is gone, just leaving the 3gs & live versions! Kinda weird. Did Ben Linus move it? (Lost joke..whatever)

I thought that this was common knowledge. There were plenty of articles leading up to the iTunes LP announcement about the record labels coming up with their own implementation of the same kind of thing and how Apple was working on their own. It is of no surprise that the labels wanted something like this as it would add some value into the whole digital down load thing.
As a musician I can personally attest that album art is still important to this day. A lot of people still look at album covers and recognize albums by their covers. Heck, my wife doesn't know songs by name but by what album they came off of and she uses the album art to help her remember such things.

I bought the new Gorillaz album as an iTunes LP and for the extra couple of quid (£) that I had to spend, I got more than what I paid for.
£10 for an 18 track album that comes with a load of artwork, stories about the band, a simple but funny game and a nice selection of videos to most of the songs and the general album/story.

The impact of album art and liner notes diminished with tapes and CDs. The recording industry should have done this a few years ago. But the real reason people started cherry picking individual tracks from albums is because the quality of albums declined considerably throughout the 90s and the 00s. If they don't fix that, some fancy multimedia presentation is only going to go so far.
iTunes LP will certainly be better on the iPad than on a computer or Apple TV.

I think iTunes LP is great, but Apple or the Record Companies need to get some good albums on iTunes LP to show how great it can be. Release some box set albums, supply iPhone/iPod Touch support, it might catch on more.

Given the appalling appearance of most bands these days I can't imagine why anyone would want pictures, much less video to ruin the music. Some Babe-Singers maybe.
I can't imagine sitting in from of my computer and watching this stuff. Bundle it with a real paper book that comes under separate cover, something that actually has collector appeal, and it might sell.
The interesting thing overlooked here is all the Gushing (on this site and others) about this whole iTunes LP when it was thought to have been an Apple invention. Now that its proving to be a total flop, some sketch story surfaces that it really came from elsewhere.

Not sure how iTunesLP got attributed to Steve Jobs or Apple as "their" concept. When iTunes LP was introduced it was clear to me that Apple/Steve wanted us to go back to those days by applying an updated approach to the the old LP concept introduced in the late 60's that included narrative linear notes, photos and "extras" like the free rolling paper included with an old Cheech and Chong LP.
iTunes LP to me has not made a splash at all. Mainly because the iPod/iPhone does very little to support the format. Sitting and the PC/Mac like @icebook does not lend in to the experience of sitting around on the coach, listening to tracks and reading through some crazy narrative laid out in the liner notes. The iPod/iPhone and soon the iPad WILL lend better to that experience

Searching on the internet on this topic I figured out that the general setiment agrees with what you are saying on this blog post.

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