Leading up to Apple’s music event last week, rumor sites had been circling about a new format from Apple that would provide additional content, like lyrics, liner notes, video interviews and more. The rumors came true as Apple announced yet one more way to spend more money inside iTunes: iTunes LPs for music and iTunes Extras for video. Here’s what they look like up close.
Deconstructing the LP
When you purchase an iTunes LP (for this example, I’m using Tyrese Gibson’s MAYHEM!), you actually end up downloading the songs included and the animated content in a new format, called .itlp. This new format is (in this example) a very big file, a little over 400MB. Not only does it take a while to download that content, but if you start to fill your library with several of these, you’ll run out of room very quickly.
For diehard fans, iTunes LPs are simply amazing. In MAYHEM!, the additional content is an animated comic book that comes to life with spoken dialog. As more and more artists sign onto creating iTunes LPs, these will become big time components of true music enthusiasts. Let’s just hope new iTunes LPs are released more frequently than the GarageBand Artist Lessons.
And Now for Video
Apple also announced iTunes Extras for video content, allowing quick scene selection and other animated “behind the scenes” content available in these exclusive packages. For many, this could be the real deciding factor between opting to purchase a new movie on DVD or Blu-ray versus purchasing it within iTunes. The end result, while perhaps not equal in terms of additional content, is a complete movie experience, with a substantial amount of supplemental content. Unfortunately, iTunes Extras are only available when purchasing content from iTunes; they are not available with movie rentals.
If you purchase content from iTunes on your iPhone and that content supports iTunes LP or iTunes Extra, the base content (songs or movie) will download immediately to your device. The LP and Extras content will download to your computer the next time you sync your iPhone or iPod touch. Upon doing so, be sure to go to “Store” and click “Check For Available Downloads” to download the additional content.
A Good Start
The iTunes Store currently has 12 iTunes LPs available (and even some of those are pre-orders) and 15 movies featuring iTunes Extras. Though Steve likes to attribute Apple’s new iTunes LP concept to a desire to pay homage to classic LPs that included bonus content, one can’t help but think that these extra features are offered to persuade users to purchase complete albums instead of a la carte downloads. The concept is very trendy and will definitely turn heads, but will the majority of our music collection feature iTunes LPs? Probably not. Will we have them for some of the big time major artists? Maybe.
What about iTunes Extras for movies? Will this stop some people from ripping their own DVDs and purchasing the content from iTunes? Perhaps. It’s unlikely that anybody (or perhaps this is a challenge to the Handbrake team) will be able to reverse engineer the .itlp format to allow users to have their own ripped DVDs with all special features play natively within iTunes.
At the moment, iTunes LPs and iTunes Extras are only playable within, you guessed it, iTunes 9. Others have already noticed, however, that the interface for these could definitely support interaction through touch, so perhaps eventually we’ll see the ability to sync these content types with our iPhones, iPod touches or even Apple TVs.
Now the question is passed to you. What do you think? Is it worth it? Have you pre-ordered Pearl Jam or downloaded The Doors yet?