iTunes LP is a Bust. Time to Go Free?

Illustration for article titled iTunes LP is a Bust. Time to Go Free?

Nobody cares about iTunes LP, reports Paul Bonanos. Six months into the format—one that Apple believed enough in to have a separate event—and nobody is buying. But what if it were free?

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We've been discussing it in our top-secret internet chat place. Mark is certain that the LP format can be redeemed—or at least given a proper chance—on the iPad. And indeed, some had speculated that iTunes LP would be the format by which Apple would distribute books and magazines. (Turns out it was ePub wrapped in FairPlay DRM, at least for books.)

It's hard to say confidently that the format has had a proper chance.There are only 29 LPs on the iTunes store right now, certainly not enough to make any sort of platform judgement. But they also cost more than simply buying an album.

So what if they were free?

The "LP" format is a sort of hybrid of the old album art and DVD-extras. (For everyone that reads this site, "albums" were giant vinyl CDs that were packaged in cardboard sleeves a bit smaller than a pizza box—lots of space for art.) But it didn't cost anything extra to get that big art on an album, and most DVDs have at least a baseline special feature. That extra content is a value-add, an incentive to buy.

Apple has released the format for iTunes LP for months, although LPs still have to be approved just like Apps. But for a smart band or label, one strong LP version ready for the iPad launch—for free—could make a band's release really stand out.

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Or maybe the LP format, asked for not by fans and customers but by the labels and the RIAA, wasn't really necessary in the first place.

DISCUSSION

Putting on my songwriter hat for a sec; the reason people are not buying albums is lack of quality + high price. Why spend $12.99+ for an album of 1 or 2 songs you like (usually singles) plus 13+ filler songs? Even at the inflated iTunes price a popular single will set you back $1.29

Concept albums are non-existant, quality records are usually no longer than an EP, and most popular music is done with the intent of selling a single and bundling it with bloatware songs.

The Black Eyed Peas seemed to have faired better than most in terms of time on charts + record sales because damn near every song has become a single. That doesn't mean that BoomBoomPow has any musical value other than it's ability to sell a record for nearly 6 months after it's initial release.

RIAA you want your customers back, your customers want you to do what you did years ago - take a chance on a lesser known acts, cut down merchandising contracts, and let people decide what music they want to buy based on the music not fancy iTunes cover art.

End of rant.