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.
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.
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
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
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:
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.