Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Apple to Discontinue ‘iTunes LP’ Format

Remember iTunes LP? Here’s how a 2009 Apple press release described the then-new format:

iTunes LP is the next evolution of the music album delivering a rich, immersive experience for select albums on the iTunes Store by combining beautiful design with expanded visual features like live performance videos, lyrics, artwork, liner notes, interviews, photos, album credits and more.

At the time, Steve Jobs described it as a way to replicate an album-like experience digitally.

As of the end of this month, though, Apple will no longer accept new iTunes LP releases. Dani Deahl, the Verge:

Earlier today, UK-based website Metro claimed to have a leaked internal email from Apple sent to music producers titled “The End of iTunes LPs.” The email supposedly stated that “Apple will no longer accept new submissions of iTunes LPs after March 2018,” and that “existing LPs will be deprecated from the store during the remainder of 2018. Customers who have previously purchased an album containing an iTunes LP will still be able to download the additional content using iTunes Match.”

While iTunes LP submissions will end this month, existing iTunes LPs will not be depreciated. Not only will these iTunes LPs continue to be available, but users will still be able to download any previous or new purchases of iTunes LPs at any time via iTunes.

I have a few iTunes LPs, but I also have a ton of actual LPs. One thing that network-accessed music will always lack, whether it is streamed or purchased, is the physicality of an album. Apple’s attempt at replicating it was a good effort and allowed them to do things that you simply can’t do with album art and liner notes, like including music videos, or behind-the-scenes films of the recording process.

But, these days, those extras don’t require a specific packaged format. Videos are streamed for the one or two times most people watch them, and lyrics are just a scroll away for many Apple Music tracks. The world moved beyond iTunes LP. And the remaining things it offered — like exquisite artwork on gorgeous poet, and that sense of a packaged product — simply can’t be replicated effectively on a screen. The weight of an LP still means something, and bytes simply don’t weigh anything.

By the way, I see a lot of stories right now forecasting the end of the iTunes Store based, in part, on this announcement. The original Metro story, for example, mis-quotes the email in its headline, and Cult of Mac jumped right on that bandwagon. I wouldn’t read too much into those. If Apple were killing music sales, they would just come out and say that.