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Apple criticized over iTunes LP development costs

post #1 of 104
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Critics are lambasting Apple over its new iTunes LP format, charging that the company has priced indies out of the game by charging a production fee of $10,000 to develop the interactive titles. Content authors are likely to view the fees as absurdly low, however.

A report by Gizmodo cited Brian McKinney of Chocolate Lab Records, a small label representing three albums and an EP from four artists. McKinney said he expressed interest in creating iTunes LP versions of his acts' work, but was shot down by an iTunes representative discussing the subject with his distributor at the Independent Online Distribution Alliance.

IODA is a group in San Francisco which helps indie acts get distributed through online sites including iTunes and Amazon as well as through mobile carrier stores such as operated by Sprint, Nokia, and Verizon. The iTunes rep reportedly said that Apple was charging a $10,000 production fee to develop the new interactive digital album titles, that there were only a dozen iTunes LP works being offered right now, and that the company wasn't even offering the treatment to the broader indie market.

Gizmodo described the development costs as "ridiculous, prohibitive fees" and charged that Apple was catering only to the acts "that iTunes needs to keep happy to be a viable music store, not the ones that might actually make something artistically interesting."

There's an app for that

At the same time however, Apple already has a platform that it has opened wide to indie labels of all stripes: the iPhone App Store. Any artist can build a custom app delivering whatever artistically interesting content they can imagine into existence, and can even set a small price for it in order to cover their expenses, or perhaps even turn a profit.

If they lack the skills and resources to develop or commission an iPhone app in order to reach the installed base of Apple's 50 million mobile users, there's always the web. Anyone with a book on HTML and Apple's free iPhone development guidelines can build their own mobile-savvy website targeting Apple's vast and growing base of web-enabled iPod and iPhone users, and promote their site via MySpace or FaceBook without Apple's involvement at all.

If anything, it appears that Apple's represented policy on iTunes LP production is a response to criticisms of the App Store. Despite leading the world in mobile applications with a library now approaching 90,000 apps (even as the company also dumps hundreds of shovelware apps at a time in its efforts to cull scandalous developers from its ranks), the App Store is often derided for accommodating "flashlight and fart apps" of little value.

Conversely, Apple was also roundly criticized for originally blocking apps that fell in the fart category, in its attempts to set a professional tone for its new mobile software store. It's really hard to imagine any possible strategy that the company could have pursued to avoid vitriolic castigation from its usual critics, so the unbuttoned disgust being expressed over the iTunes LP issue isn't really a surprise.

Apple's iTunes LP strategy

The fact that Apple uses open, web standards to build its new iTunes LP titles, and the fact that they are currently only viewable within iTunes 9 on a Mac or PC, along with the expectation that these digital albums are being targeted at a new tablet form factor product in the pipeline as well as the HDTV resolution of Apple TV, all serve as indicators that iTunes LP is a work in progress that is still unfolding as a strategy.

Until Apple unveils Apple TV 3.0 support for the new albums (and their nearly identical iTunes Extra interactive bonus content packages for digital movies) and ships the new tablet that is expected to serve as an interactive browser for all kinds of digital content, including new media magazines and newspapers, this is still something that's brewing in Apple's labs.

With only a dozen titles currently available, Apple likely doesn't want the new format associated with music the mainstream market doesn't care about. Having to manage quality assurance for a thousand self-made indie titles would distract Apple's iTunes group from being able to promote the stature of huge pop acts it currently has in its iTunes LP roster: Norah Jones, the Doors, Perl Jam, Mika, Grateful Dead, and of course Steve Jobs' favorite: Bob Dylan.



A look at the movies available with iTunes Extras also shows some discrimination: Iron Man, Batman Begins, Wizard of Oz, Da Vinci Code, Quantum of Solace and of course Steve Jobs' favorite: Pixar's WallE (below). That's not to say Apple has exceptionally lofty standards; they also gave the Extras treatment to Talladega Nights and some movie with Matthew McConaughey in it.



But clearly, Apple wants to debut iTunes LP and Extras with as much class as possible. The company now has the stature to do just that, after being forced to endure a more humble entry into TV programming just four years ago with one partner (Disney/ABC) and a library of only five series, one of which was "That's So Raven," not likely a favorite of Steve Jobs.

Ten Thousand is Cheap

As for the production costs associated with iTunes LP titles, if the $10,000 figure cited is true, it's hard to imagine how Apple is cranking these out for so little. Authoring any sort of interactive content is expensive. Try to some hire expert designers in Silicon Valley do do your website for $10,000 and you might get laughed at derisively. iTunes LP, as AppleInsider was among the first to report, is essentially a self-contained web application.

What's the alternative? For indies wanting to author a Blu-Ray disc, they'll first have to come up with around $3,500 to print their content to disc by a service bureau in 1000-disc quantities, plus per-title fee of $1,585 to license the use of Blu-Ray's non-negotiably mandatory AACS DRM. You can also buy a $3,000 BR burner and try burning your own discs, but BR-RW currently doesn't work reliably across the BR players in existence and the media is still so expensive that duplication costs about as much as outsourcing it to pros.

But wait, that's all just fees associated with duplication and licensing. If you actually want to author interactive Blu-Ray content, it'll cost you around $40,000 to obtain just the authoring software needed to create the content yourself. If you want pros to develop it for you, you'll probably need a well-funded label that thinks you have a big hit.

Of course, these fees are helping to create the dismal market for Blu-Ray. One can also author DVDs for cheaper, or develop Flash or other custom apps or web sites that add some extra bonus content to standard CDs. But it has always been fantastically expensive to author content.

Many efforts over the years to launch a format for authored content have never really taken off, from Apple's early attempts to promote QuickTime content on CD-ROMs to CD+Graphics, Mega-LD, Video CD, Philips/3DO CDi, Commodore's CDTV, Super Audio CD, DVD-Audio, and Sony's PSP UMDs.

If Apple can develop a viable format using open standards that users will pay for, or will at least encourage them to buy digital downloads containing interactive bonus content at a faster clip than they already are, then the $10,000 it costs to develop the titles will really be an exceptionally cheap onramp for the labels and studios who are still somewhat hesitant about merging into the digital highway.

Frosting for iTunes' cake

Complaining about an authoring production fee that has got to be among the lowest in the industry is on par with the outrage some expressed when they found out that App Store developers would need to pay $99 for a software signing certificate and would need to buy a Mac to use the iPhone's development tools.

At the same time, once Apple fully engages its iTunes LP plans, it's likely that the company will rely on third parties to actually develop the titles. It has a library of six billion songs and thousands of movies; even if LP/Extras treatment is applied very selectively, that's an awful lot of potential authoring for one company to take on.

Apple's choice of using web standards to build the content, rather than building it as a proprietary app in the model of iPhone software, indicates that wants to set the development bar on iTunes bonus content low enough to attract the broad and deep talent that already exists among the world's web developers.

Additionally, since these bonus content packages are just a secondary file that Apple distributes upon the purchase of a standard movie or album of tracks, with no mandatory DRM like Blu-Ray nor any special technology licensing nor any SDK requirements like those related to iPhone apps, there's no reason that third parties can't develop their own material and distribute it independently of iTunes. All that's required is some simple documentation of Apple's TuneKit features for interactively playing music or video in iTunes from the self contained web applications.

Given that the bonus content all created in JavaScript and largely self-documented, it's puzzling why there's not yet an online repository for users and indies interested in creating their own bonus content. After all, Apple is clearly signaling here that it wants to create an open interactive content format that will add value to its already non-profit/self-sustaining efforts to deliver music and video in iTunes for Mac, iPod, and iPhone users.
post #2 of 104
I know I'm dating myself, but I do so long for the days when an aspiring young singer/songwriter could work the local clubs with an acoustic set 2 or 3 times a week to keep from starving, then sell an occasional song or two to someone famous to record.

All in all, it was a pretty nice way to live. One that doesn't seem to work too well in todays marketplace.
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post #3 of 104
Let's say you take the LP idea over to a no-name freelance graphic designer/developer. Guess what...they'll charge you by the hour. In order to perfect it, make it visually appealing, really allow the artist to portray themselves and reach millions and millions of iTunes users they know they could charge you for it. An we are talking about a no name developer. Interactive applications, customer covers and interfaces and hosting is all, I believe iTunes has every right to charge 10K!
post #4 of 104
Honestly if a few bands would try his they would instantly stand head and shoulders above the rest. Other wise they end up looking like a bunch of over drugged whiners with an inflated sense of entitlement.

I just find this sort of commenting strange to hear from an indie label. Isn't the whole idea of going indie to avoid the structure of the big record companies and to basically row your own boat? It isn't like they half to program a main frame to solve weather forecast, thought they might just do better that the current forecasts.

Besides as has been pointed out the cost really isn't that bad. I suspect that the content creation is still a lot faster than doing a full scale web site, (not that I have info to base that on). At least is looks like Apple ought to have a handy IDE to slap these out fast.


Dave
post #5 of 104
I got the distinct impression that iTunes LPs were a concession to the major labels to allow albums instead of singles to be pushed. I think SJ was happy with things the way they were, except for drm resrictions ... am I wrong?
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post #6 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Given that the bonus content all created in JavaScript and largely self-documented, it's puzzling why there's not yet an online repository for users and indies interested in creating their own bonus content. After all, Apple is clearly signaling here that it wants to create an open interactive content format that will add value to its already non-profit/self-sustaining efforts to deliver music and video in iTunes for Mac, iPod, and iPhone users.

$10,000 to develop may be "cheap" but it will definitely kill incentive for most developers to create an itunes LP. This is disappointing news but I would assume this will be a temporary policy. If Apple is the only developer for the format how many LP's are ever going to get made? imagine if Apple charged $10k for every App on the store; there would be far fewer Apps that's for sure.
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post #7 of 104
I would think that this is only a temporary thing, as Apple has not put all cards on the table yet. Once everything is in place (tablet, ebook reading software, and a big enough amount of existing content using "LP", "Extras", etc.), there will be a software tool that will allow content creators to prep these things themselves. Apple certainly does not want to get into the content creation business and they should not.

Labels/artists have to make a simple business decision: how much more can I charge for the bonus content and how likely is it for that additional revenue to exceed the upfront cost. I can't afford a prime time TV ad for my company, but I do not really see this as discrimination. Making such a ridiculous claim would maybe give me some free airtime? Well, this only works when whining about Apple, it does not really scale down to less attractive outfits.

I bought 5 iTunes LPs so far and the format is ingenious, a major step format for digital distribution. Now support the Apple TV and at least transfer lyrics and compatible content to the iPhone/iPod to make it truly useful.
post #8 of 104
Remember "Video Killed the Radio Star"? This is like "iPod Killed the LP Star"!
Digital booklets are a joke. Apple is trying to resurrect a dead art form I guess because they helped kill it in the first place.
post #9 of 104
It's not entirely clear from the article: is the $10K an optional cost if you want Apple to author the content for you, or is required even if you put everything together yourself?

Can an indie artist record their own music, produce their own iTunes LP content (presumably for a lot less than $10K) and submit it all to Apple for inclusion on the iTunes Store, without incurring this $10K fee? If so, what are they complaining about? If not, then I agree that the iTunes Store policy sets too high a hurdle for this particular product.
post #10 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Remember "Video Killed the Radio Star"? This is like "iPod Killed the LP Star"!
Digital booklets are a joke. Apple is trying to resurrect a dead art form I guess because they helped kill it in the first place.

Don't you have other forums somewhere to share your wisdom? Why do keep posting here?
post #11 of 104
Hi - guilty party here.

I don't have the time to respond to all these comments, but let me address a couple things.

1. Yes, I have 3 albums and 1 EP out in the <1 year we've been operating. That doesn't account for upcoming releases - at least two of which are announced on our site.

2. The point of going "indie" is not to avoid the structure of big record companies. We'd love to be a big record company some day. Doesn't mean we won't still row our own boat.

3. $10,000 is too much money. And who says anyone would have to pay a freelance developer/designer. Perhaps I am a designer and could do it for free. Perhaps not. Doesn't matter because I don't have a choice.

4. The only concern I have is now. iTunes may offer a feature allowing me to make an iTunes LP from my G1 phone in 2 days. But they haven't announced it that I'm aware of.

5. There may be an iPhone App, but why do I care. I have a G1 and I'll keep buying Android until iPhones are available from someone besides AT&T.

Lastly, I'm happy to sell our music on iTunes. It's a nice way to sell music but that doesn't mean I'm going to drink the Cool-Aid. Go ahead and blast away at me for trying to do the best job I can with the options available to me.

Cheers,
Brian
post #12 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

It's not entirely clear from the article: is the $10K an optional cost if you want Apple to author the content for you, or is required even if you put everything together yourself?

Can an indie artist record their own music, produce their own iTunes LP content (presumably for a lot less than $10K) and submit it all to Apple for inclusion on the iTunes Store, without incurring this $10K fee? If so, what are they complaining about? If not, then I agree that the iTunes Store policy sets too high a hurdle for this particular product.

What I was told is no. You are not able to produce your own content and as of now it's only available to major labels.
post #13 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Honestly if a few bands would try his they would instantly stand head and shoulders above the rest. Other wise they end up looking like a bunch of over drugged whiners with an inflated sense of entitlement.

I just find this sort of commenting strange to hear from an indie label. Isn't the whole idea of going indie to avoid the structure of the big record companies and to basically row your own boat? It isn't like they half to program a main frame to solve weather forecast, thought they might just do better that the current forecasts.
Dave

It's akin to an indy band finally getting the ability to make indy records, in indy studios, with indy producers, and then suddenly demanding that they be given the same marketing, post-production and promotional machine of a major label.

Frankly, if you aren't selling enough records as an indy to afford this type of produciton, then YOU PROBABLY DONT NEED IT. Whiners to be certain.
post #14 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post

I would think that this is only a temporary thing, as Apple has not put all cards on the table yet. Once everything is in place (tablet, ebook reading software, and a big enough amount of existing content using "LP", "Extras", etc.), there will be a software tool that will allow content creators to prep these things themselves. Apple certainly does not want to get into the content creation business and they should not

Bingo. iLP, new in iLife '10.

Apple lets these wankers pay for the dev costs and they create another hit app.
post #15 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by newbee View Post

I got the distinct impression that iTunes LPs were a concession to the major labels to allow albums instead of singles to be pushed. I think SJ was happy with things the way they were, except for drm resrictions ... am I wrong?

I didn't get that impression at all. I think this was Apple's idea and I think it's just the tip of the iceberg of what is to come. One of the main drawbacks of digital media doesn't seem to be the quality, which appears to be "good enough" for most people, especially those still using DVD, but the lack of rich interactive content one get with optical media. iTunes LP made me think a tablet and revamped AppleTV are true and will offer digital media in ways that we can't imagine.

PS: I would have expected ALAC to have used with iTunes LP if it was just for music and just for a small selection of music.
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post #16 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chocolate Lab View Post

1. Yes, I have 3 albums and 1 EP out in the <1 year we've been operating. That doesn't account for upcoming releases - at least two of which are announced on our site.

2. The point of going "indie" is not to avoid the structure of big record companies. We'd love to be a big record company some day. Doesn't mean we won't still row our own boat.

3. $10,000 is too much money. And who says anyone would have to pay a freelance developer/designer. Perhaps I am a designer and could do it for free. Perhaps not. Doesn't matter because I don't have a choice.

4. The only concern I have is now. iTunes may offer a feature allowing me to make an iTunes LP from my G1 phone in 2 days. But they haven't announced it that I'm aware of.

5. There may be an iPhone App, but why do I care. I have a G1 and I'll keep buying Android until iPhones are available from someone besides AT&T.

1. Are they all available on iTunes? If so, how much did it cost you to put them there (where they are available to the world)?

2. Then what is the point of "going indy?" I'd like to know why you "went indy" when you could put out your own records on iTunes from your living room without any label support whatsoever.

3. $10,000 isn't "too much", its just "too much for you". Its too much for me also, honestly, but it isn't like its something we're entitled to, is it?

4. They'll likely not say anything until its ready. that's their style.

5. That's your freedom of choice. I'd leave ATT if I had a choice, but my desire for my phone to be Apple outweighs my hatred for ATT...for now.
post #17 of 104
"if you aren't selling enough records as an indy to afford this type of production, then YOU PROBABLY DONT NEED IT" --- I agree somewhat on this. Even though some peeps know (interactive) designers who won't charge the price of a small car.

Plus Apple isn't going to make it mandatory to spend $10k for indie bands. That would turn away tons of music and some profits for Apple.

Only if Apple wants to be the Walmart (please NO!) of selling online tunes then it'll get worse.

There's still a lot to iron out. Time will tell.

Anyway it should be the MUSIC that matters, not flashy graphics. But Apple should let anyone put in liner notes, production credits, etc in a standard text field (not just a digital booklet). Basic info that is missing right now.
post #18 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chocolate Lab View Post

What I was told is no. You are not able to produce your own content and as of now it's only available to major labels.

Assuming that's the case, I wonder if this is a temporary state of affairs while Apple sorts everything out. In the long run I hope that indie artists can indeed roll their own at their own level of investment and still get their material sold on the iTunes Store.

One hypothetical argument to be made for Apple is they don't want a flood of randomly-produced interactive content with UI bugs and obscene easter-eggs hidden inside and a general QA nightmare of poor coding. But then they should come out and make that clear, and establish which demographic they want to cater to.

I think the best of all worlds would be if anyone can sell their music via iTunes but then offer their interactive/LP material separately, either on their own web site or 3rd-party commerce site, or, if they prefer, let Apple sell it and pay the $10K. But then, regardless of where that material comes from, the end user could merge it all in their iTunes client (much like we can now paste our own album art or lyrics onto CD-ripped tracks). This, of course, assuming RIAA isn't involved somewhere and threatens to sue anything that moves.
post #19 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Honestly if a few bands would try his they would instantly stand head and shoulders above the rest. Other wise they end up looking like a bunch of over drugged whiners with an inflated sense of entitlement.

Dave

Over drugged whiners; inflated sense of entitlement? That's not fair. There are many indie artists on Itunes who use services like CD baby to get their stuff distributed while bypassing traditional channels. Not only is it less expensive but it's allot easier to put your own money into a project rather than relying on labels and distributors pick up the tab. Major labels and distributors raise the cost making ROI a much more daunting task.

Indie doesn't imply that you don't want to sell your stuff on Itunes or Rhapsody; it means simply "I don't want this label and this distributor to jack up the cost of selling this album so they can take their cut". Even if the major release sells 3x as many albums, by the time everyone takes their cut the artist ends up making about as much money as an indie release. (barring the stadium artists)

I have clients that are already very interested in developing in the LP format and the fee will definitely turn some of them off. I'm certain that that an LP can be developed for far less than 10K especially if your just talking about the LP itself. I downloaded the mayhem comic and it looked like a pretty straight forward multimedia build-out.

Apple is not going to include producing the content (artwork, audio, video) for the LP, so add that on top of the development cost and the 10K fee for Apple to "compile" it? (I'm a little fuzzy on what they are changing for) you're talking about a very pricey project that "indies" can't afford.

That said, I'm sure this won't last or the LP will be a flop which would be too bad because people like the idea of not limiting their product to just an Iphone or tablet App. Mobile devices may be "the future" but there are still allot of desktops and laptops out there and it would be better to not ignore that segment.
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post #20 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by echosonic View Post

1. Are they all available on iTunes? If so, how much did it cost you to put them there (where they are available to the world)?

2. Then what is the point of "going indy?" I'd like to know why you "went indy" when you could put out your own records on iTunes from your living room without any label support whatsoever.

3. $10,000 isn't "too much", its just "too much for you". Its too much for me also, honestly, but it isn't like its something we're entitled to, is it?

4. They'll likely not say anything until its ready. that's their style.

5. That's your freedom of choice. I'd leave ATT if I had a choice, but my desire for my phone to be Apple outweighs my hatred for ATT...for now.

Yes. All of our albums are on iTunes as well as a number of other online retailers such as Amazon and eMusic. In most cases we have CDs being sold online and in stores.

I'm not sure what the point of "going indie" is. That phrase really makes no sense to me. We are a record label, not a band. Therefor it's our job to support our acts. We started this label to release music that we believe in and to have fun. Would I love to make enough money to be able to spend $10k on a whim like this? Sure. Being indie just means you're not major - i.e. Warner, EMI, Sony or Universal. We are just one of tens of thousands of indie labels vying for a slice of the pie.
post #21 of 104
From Wikipedia:

Record companies and music publishers that are not under the control of the big four are generally considered to be independent (indie), even if they are large corporations with complex structures. Some prefer to use the term indie label to refer to only those independent labels that adhere to an arbitrary, ill-defined criteria of corporate structure and size, and some consider an indie label to be almost any label that releases non-mainstream music, regardless of its corporate structure.
post #22 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

I think the best of all worlds would be if anyone can sell their music via iTunes but then offer their interactive/LP material separately, either on their own web site or 3rd-party commerce site, or, if they prefer, let Apple sell it and pay the $10K. But then, regardless of where that material comes from, the end user could merge it all in their iTunes client (much like we can now paste our own album art or lyrics onto CD-ripped tracks). This, of course, assuming RIAA isn't involved somewhere and threatens to sue anything that moves.

Now that I've written that, I realize a potential problem. If the 'bonus material' (for lack of a better all-inclusive term) is distributed separately, then that also means it can be ripped-off separately and thrown into the torrents. And in this case there won't be the threat of the RIAAs and ASCAPs to protect the content producer (or, in reality, to protect their own stake in it.) I don't know how the iTunes Store policy and structure might prevent this (maybe with a watermark?), but things are never as simple as they seem at first. My own speculation included.
post #23 of 104
I think all Apple is trying to do right now is test the waters with this concept. The high cost of entry serves to limit the concept to some of the top selling bands for now and ensures high quality LP's. A limited number of LP's creates a sense of value to the consumer, and the artists featured might entice customers to check these LP's out.

If Apple can create this sense of added value and generate consumer interest, they will most certainly lower the barriers to entry over time, but Apple probably believes that the launch period of this program is a critical factor in its long term success and thus wants almost complete control over the content (for now).
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post #24 of 104
Seems to me this will force artists into a label in any case, be that Indie or otherwise, as they will most likely not have $10,000 to seed their LP.

I would have been a better idea if they made this more accessible to the common artist where they could forgo a traditional Label altogether.
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post #25 of 104
Any indie labels worried about the cost of iTunes LP production should stop worrying about such "gloss" and stick to what they're supposed to do best *Music.
post #26 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by spliff monkey View Post

$10,000 to develop may be "cheap" but it will definitely kill incentive for most developers to create an itunes LP. This is disappointing news but I would assume this will be a temporary policy. If Apple is the only developer for the format how many LP's are ever going to get made? imagine if Apple charged $10k for every App on the store; there would be far fewer Apps that's for sure.

That is not a good analogy. It would be more like Apple charging you $10 000 to build your app and you just provide the images etc. Not a bad deal really - when you consider how slick these things look. They are even better than most websites these bands have.
post #27 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJRumpy View Post

Seems to me this will force artists into a label in any case, be that Indie or otherwise, as they will most likely not have $10,000 to see their LP.

I would have been a better idea if they made this more accessible to the common artist where they could forgo a traditional Label altogether.

There's no obligation for anyone to produce in the iTunes LP format. Artists are still free to sell just music, on whatever label they want, indie or otherwise.
post #28 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

There's no obligation for anyone to produce in the iTunes LP format. Artists are still free to sell just music, on whatever label they want, indie or otherwise.

That's not the point. It would have been a great venue for new artists to get their music out there given the popularity of iTunes.
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post #29 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

Assuming that's the case, I wonder if this is a temporary state of affairs while Apple sorts everything out. In the long run I hope that indie artists can indeed roll their own at their own level of investment and still get their material sold on the iTunes Store.

One hypothetical argument to be made for Apple is they don't want a flood of randomly-produced interactive content with UI bugs and obscene easter-eggs hidden inside and a general QA nightmare of poor coding. But then they should come out and make that clear, and establish which demographic they want to cater to.

I think the best of all worlds would be if anyone can sell their music via iTunes but then offer their interactive/LP material separately, either on their own web site or 3rd-party commerce site, or, if they prefer, let Apple sell it and pay the $10K. But then, regardless of where that material comes from, the end user could merge it all in their iTunes client (much like we can now paste our own album art or lyrics onto CD-ripped tracks). This, of course, assuming RIAA isn't involved somewhere and threatens to sue anything that moves.

They don't edit or qualify the music they release, so I'm not sure why the LP content would be any different. But I do agree, to a point, that bugginess is always an issue.
post #30 of 104
These file formats are basically a gzipped web site with the suffix changed to ,itlp or .ite. Inside, it's just HTML, CSS, Javascript, images and perhaps even a few video clips.

A template for iWeb or RapidWeaver would make it possible for any creative person to develop one of these files. These are not, or should not be, barriers to entry.

So, what if I develop such a file? How do I get Apple to make it available along with a selection of music that I've recorded? That's the potential barrier. Has anyone seen any publicly accessible description of how to ask Apple to include an .itlp file with your application?

The iTunes Extras file will also be of interest to podcasters who want to include interactive materials with their linear audio or video podcast.
post #31 of 104
I'm only imagining that iTunes LP will be available for viewing on the iPod touch and iPhone sometime within the next few years...

On another note, why hasn't anyone noted the terrible grammar on this particular article?
Someone ran out of coffee, methinks
post #32 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chocolate Lab View Post

Hi - guilty party here.

I don't have the time to respond to all these comments, but let me address a couple things.

1. Yes, I have 3 albums and 1 EP out in the <1 year we've been operating. That doesn't account for upcoming releases - at least two of which are announced on our site.

2. The point of going "indie" is not to avoid the structure of big record companies. We'd love to be a big record company some day. Doesn't mean we won't still row our own boat.

3. $10,000 is too much money. And who says anyone would have to pay a freelance developer/designer. Perhaps I am a designer and could do it for free. Perhaps not. Doesn't matter because I don't have a choice.

4. The only concern I have is now. iTunes may offer a feature allowing me to make an iTunes LP from my G1 phone in 2 days. But they haven't announced it that I'm aware of.

5. There may be an iPhone App, but why do I care. I have a G1 and I'll keep buying Android until iPhones are available from someone besides AT&T.

Lastly, I'm happy to sell our music on iTunes. It's a nice way to sell music but that doesn't mean I'm going to drink the Cool-Aid. Go ahead and blast away at me for trying to do the best job I can with the options available to me.

Cheers,
Brian

Since you've gone to this trouble to respond it would be interesting to hear why 'its too much'.

Possible reasons

1) The incremental sales from the exposure of this format won't generate > $10,000 in additional profit.

2) I can get the same result with the same increase in sales elsewhere for less.

Just saying its too much because you think it is, or if they did it differently you would do it cheaper, it not a valid reason.

I'm genuinely interested because, its seems to me , that the value added is the key. If your reason is (1) above and you're correct in general, then Apple has really wasted its time in creating this format in the first place. If its (2) then Apple will eventually lower the price. If another then???

Can you tell us which it is IYO?
post #33 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by flowney View Post

These file formats are basically a gzipped web site with the suffix changed to ,itlp or .ite. Inside, it's just HTML, CSS, Javascript, images and perhaps even a few video clips.

A template for iWeb or RapidWeaver would make it possible for any creative person to develop one of these files. These are not, or should not be, barriers to entry.

So, what if I develop such a file? How do I get Apple to make it available along with a selection of music that I've recorded? That's the potential barrier. Has anyone seen any publicly accessible description of how to ask Apple to include an .itlp file with your application?

The iTunes Extras file will also be of interest to podcasters who want to include interactive materials with their linear audio or video podcast.

The barrier is Apple/iTunes. My entire point was that these are just glorified websites and that given a chance to create one myself I would have enjoyed offering it as bonus content to anyone interested. We're being told that Apple is deciding who can have them (major labels only) and at what price ($10,000 is what I was told).
post #34 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by physguy View Post

Since you've gone to this trouble to respond it would be interesting to hear why 'its too much'.

Possible reasons

1) The incremental sales from the exposure of this format won't generate > $10,000 in additional profit.

2) I can get the same result with the same increase in sales elsewhere for less.

Just saying its too much because you think it is, or if they did it differently you would do it cheaper, it not a valid reason.

I'm genuinely interested because, its seems to me , that the value added is the key. If your reason is (1) above and you're correct in general, then Apple has really wasted its time in creating this format in the first place. If its (2) then Apple will eventually lower the price. If another then???

Can you tell us which it is IYO?

It's not too much for a major label who hemorrhages money in attempts to promote artists with the hope of having a successful album. Anyone can tell you that a major label loses money on 9 out of 10 albums and that that one profitable album pays for the rest of the loses. That's just how majors work.

It's too much for us because why would we want to pay $10,000 (assuming we had $10,000 for one aspect of marketing/production) to have an in-house design team create our LP. But that's not the point either - the point is that we're not being given the option in the first place.

I don't know what the value added would be. I'm shocked that anyone is paying an extra $10 per album to get a couple videos and extras in the first place. My initial goal in pursuing information on LP creation was to release two albums as a "box set/special edition" and at the price of one album and include the LP format as a bonus. That's the only way I could justify the extra cost to the end user. I don't even know who gets to keep the extra $10, to be honest.
post #35 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

Don't you have other forums somewhere to share your wisdom? Why do keep posting here?

Even if you beat him like a red-headed stepchild he'd still love the attention.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #36 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

Now that I've written that, I realize a potential problem. If the 'bonus material' (for lack of a better all-inclusive term) is distributed separately, then that also means it can be ripped-off separately and thrown into the torrents. And in this case there won't be the threat of the RIAAs and ASCAPs to protect the content producer (or, in reality, to protect their own stake in it.) I don't know how the iTunes Store policy and structure might prevent this (maybe with a watermark?), but things are never as simple as they seem at first. My own speculation included.

It's usually considered bad form to reply to your own post. Just edit your original post to include the new information, or make a new post.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #37 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by echosonic View Post

It's akin to an indy band finally getting the ability to make indy records, in indy studios, with indy producers, and then suddenly demanding that they be given the same marketing, post-production and promotional machine of a major label.

Frankly, if you aren't selling enough records as an indy to afford this type of produciton, then YOU PROBABLY DONT NEED IT. Whiners to be certain.

You are wrong and I don't take you seriously. But you should know that we're all just people. Sometimes we sign with or work at a major label and sometimes we don't. And I don't think it's whining to want to attempt to provide an equal product to someone else's should you choose to try. If nobody buys it and you spent the money then so be it. But just saying you can't isn't right.

This reminds me of Plessy v. Ferguson...
post #38 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post

I would think that this is only a temporary thing, as Apple has not put all cards on the table yet. Once everything is in place (tablet, ebook reading software, and a big enough amount of existing content using "LP", "Extras", etc.), there will be a software tool that will allow content creators to prep these things themselves. Apple certainly does not want to get into the content creation business and they should not.

Just to amplify this point: Apple traditionally "eats its own dog food" before releasing development tools into the wild. Think how many iPhone apps they developed internally before the SDK was released (and how long it took--two+ years at least). So how to get content to shake down the dev process? The answer so far from Apple: approach some labels with bonus content already on the shelf, get some honest money (peanuts to every party concerned), and put them on iTunes for the labels to recoup their peanuts (and Apple to test/refine/extend the concept and test the market).

And now the bonus question: how many native apps were available at iPhone launch vs how many LPs were available at its launch?
post #39 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chocolate Lab View Post

It's not too much for a major label who hemorrhages money in attempts to promote artists with the hope of having a successful album. Anyone can tell you that a major label loses money on 9 out of 10 albums and that that one profitable album pays for the rest of the loses. That's just how majors work.

It's too much for us because why would we want to pay $10,000 (assuming we had $10,000 for one aspect of marketing/production) to have an in-house design team create our LP. But that's not the point either - the point is that we're not being given the option in the first place.

I don't know what the value added would be. I'm shocked that anyone is paying an extra $10 per album to get a couple videos and extras in the first place. My initial goal in pursuing information on LP creation was to release two albums as a "box set/special edition" and at the price of one album and include the LP format as a bonus. That's the only way I could justify the extra cost to the end user. I don't even know who gets to keep the extra $10, to be honest.

Thanks for the response. Basically you believe my item (1)

1) The incremental sales from the exposure of this format won't generate > $10,000 in additional profit.

If this is true then the format will fail. Given Apple's boder-line obsessive approach to market research, I actually doubt this is the case and, for most releases, the exposure from this format will more than justify the $10,000. I have to agree with the conclusion 'It's NOT overpriced' but it is certainly true its not have value to everyone. Only time will actually tell.
post #40 of 104
I see why Apple should be able to do whatever they want in this instance as it's there store and there isn't anything that says a store must sell a product.

However it turns into a bit of an issue with the monopoly Apple's developing over online music sales. It's sort of like them using the fact that most people buy from them to be able to add an extra feature that's based on existing open technology and then demand there the only people that can product for it. At the same time then also decide which suppliers they will do it for. i.e. the ones that will be most profitable.

It's sort of like if Google was to decide they were going to start a server business and then ranked all the sites hosted by them over any other site. As most people use Google to search it would mean website owners would be forced to have their site with Google even if was going to cost more.

Tough situation for Apple. On one hand they only want quality to keep there service at the best, but to do that you end up using a monopoly on a market to unfairly control it. Then again overall there still going to make a load of money whatever they do.
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