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Summary:

The iTunes LP is the new format Apple has been pushing in iTunes. It’s more like a DVD than anything else. You have menus, music, photos, liner notes and videos. Since this is such a fresh format, not many albums are available in it yet. The […]

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iTunes LP Logo

The iTunes LP is the new format Apple has been pushing in iTunes. It’s more like a DVD than anything else. You have menus, music, photos, liner notes and videos. Since this is such a fresh format, not many albums are available in it yet. The good news is, you can make your own.

I’ll take you through the process of creating your own iTunes LP that you can distribute yourself.

Getting Started

Apple offers a template to help you out, which can be found here (ZIP). After it is unzipped, you should see an iTunes-LP-Example.itlp file. Right click on the file and select “Show Package Contents.”

If you open up the index.html file in Safari, you’ll see the LP.

First, we want to edit the iTunesMetadata.plist file in TextEdit and enter some info about the LP we are creating. I decided to do the Neutral Milk Hotel album, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Filling out this information helps iTunes import the LP correctly. Make sure the artist and album name are correct at a minimum.

Now we can get into the good stuff. We want to create the background image and the bleed image. The bleed image is what the user see’s if they are viewing the album at a resolution larger than 1280×720. Open up the images/interface/bleed.png file in your image editor of choice. For now, you might just want to make the image a solid color, otherwise it may look cluttered.

The buttons are simply images that can be replaced easily. The LP format is really just HTML with some nice JavaScript and CSS. Because of this, you can make your LP’s as complicated as you see fit. The CSS folder contains all the CSS files that reference the positioning of the buttons. Editing the home.css file, I can change the position of my title on the home page.

The one thing your LP will need, no mater how simple, is music. The music doesn’t live inside the LP itself. The LP file just references songs in your iTunes library. There is an audio folder, where the intro music that plays on the LP lives. Apple suggests keeping this short, so I opened up one of the songs off the album in iTunes. I then edited the Start and Stop times.

After I made sure it played back properly, I created an AAC version of it by right clicking and selecting “Create AAC Version.” This created a new m4a file that was the specific length I wanted. I renamed the file to intro.m4a and replaced the original intro.m4a file in the audio folder.

Next, lets add some photos. I used Google to grab a handful of images related to the band. Then I replaced the photos in the images/photos folder and used the same naming convention of photo01.jpg.

The photos will get resized and cropped automatically to 600×400 when they are displayed, so size doesn’t seem to be too important.

Now I want to add some liner notes, so I used the band’s bio information from Amazon. Just edit the views/linernotes.html file and add your own text.

I decided that I didn’t want the credit or video sections so I deleted them out of views/home.html.

Then I had to edit the css/home.css file to move the liner notes button up.

Things are really starting to come together.

Adding Songs & Lyrics

Adding songs is probably the hardest part of the whole iTunes LP creation process. The LP references songs by their XID. The XID is a serial number of sorts that Apple assigns to every song available for purchase in the iTunes store. This means the LP can play any song that it knows the XID for, regardless if the user renamed the file in anyway. If it’s a song you didn’t purchase from iTunes, you have to create your own XID.

We’ll look at how to find the XID for songs you’ve purchased from iTunes. First, you need to enable author mode for iTunes. Make sure iTunes is closed and then run this command in Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.iTunes WebKitDeveloperExtras -bool true

Now open iTunes back up, right-click on a purchased song and choose Get Info. Under the Info tab you will see an XID field. That is how to tell your LP what song to play.

But what if this isn’t a song you purchased through iTunes? Then the XID field will be blank. We need to generate our own. Go to Terminal and enter the following command:

uuidgen

You will now get back a random UUID string that can be used for a song. You have to do this for every song so they each have a unique XID. Find your song in iTunes and get to the XID field. Apple wants us to prefix this UUID with TEST:uuid: to create the complete XID string. Now our song has a unique XID that can be referenced in our LP.

There are two places these XID’s need to be entered. The manifest.xml file and the controllers/data.js file. First we edit the manifest.xml file and replace the default XID with the one from our track.

Then we edit the data.js file and do the same.

Now open up your LP in iTunes, play the first song and admire your work. These same steps need to be done for every song on the LP.

Let’s add some lyrics to our song next. The lyrics are just an image file located in the images/songs/ folder. They are named simply lyrics01.jpg and so on. You can either just create a simple image with text in it or get creative. What about scanning lyrics from the original vinyl/CD art? You could go even further and scribble the lyrics down on paper then scan it in.

Replicate these steps for each song and remember to be creative. The LP will only be as cool as you want it to be. I like to think of it as digital scrap-booking. If you love the music, you will be inspired to go all out.

If you create an LP and use XID’s from songs purchased through iTunes, you could give the LP to someone else. As long as they also purchased the songs in iTunes, it will work for them. You could also find a small local band that you dig and create one for them. That should get you some backstage passes.

  1. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the manual steps (like editing the plist file or generating XIDs) in a little App?

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    1. It would be…

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  2. Ummm….so where can one get this Neutral Milk Hotel LP (for one of the greatest albums of all time….that’s right, I said it)? It’d be a shame for all that work to go to waste….

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    1. Perhaps a site should exist that serves publicly created iTuneLP’s?

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  3. Wow, this is stupid simple. There’s some really great potential for web designers to bleed into music curation and audio visualization. Thanks for sharing your process!

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  4. As soon as this was announced I thought about all the albums I listen to on my Apple TV that could use this treatment. Thanks!

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    1. That was my thought too. I wonder if the tablet will make it a better experience too.

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  5. Awesome article!!!!!!

    Thank you very much.

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  6. [...] iTunes story here: How-To: Create Your Own iTunes LP AKPC_IDS += [...]

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  7. [...] out this straightforward tutorial to adapt the sample iTunes LP project from Apple. Read more: The Apple Blog , Apple about January 16, 2010 9:46 AM – by Chris [...]

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  8. This is cool for making LPs of your own compliations: a “mix tape” for the 21st century.

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  9. Andrew, good article, but stupid question: What text editor is that??

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    1. It’s Taco HTML edit.

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  10. Great article.

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    1. Thank you lestyn :)

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