iTunes LP Format Opening Up to Additional Major and Indie Record Labels
There has been a fair amount of discussion about Apple's plans for its iTunes LP [iTunes link] line of enhanced album content in recent days after Gizmodo reported on a small indie record label owner who claimed that an Apple representative had notified his distributor that iTunes LP releases require a $10,000 production fee from the label, effectively limiting the feature to larger labels able to afford such costs.
I contacted the digital distribution manager at my label's distributor. He had a conference call with an iTunes rep and asked how we go about putting an LP together. He was told that LPs aren't being offered to indies and that there are only about 12 LPs being offered right now. They also said that iTunes charges a $10,000 production fee for them as well. So that pretty much edges out the indie market completely.
Apple, however, has recently responded to these claims to deny that there is any production fee involved and to reveal that the company plans to open up the format to all labels in the near future to allow for rapid expansion beyond the dozen or so offerings currently available in the iTunes LP format.
We're releasing the open specs for iTunes LP soon, allowing both major and indie labels to create their own. There is no production fee charged by Apple.
While the iTunes LP format appears to be rather simple to duplicate and has even led to several non-Apple projects and do-it-yourself tutorials popping up, the expected release of authorized Apple specs for the format to allow for official distribution through the iTunes Store will certainly come as good news for artists and labels looking for ways to enhance their products.