Enhanced iPad albums hope to succeed where iTunes LP failed

Thu, Mar 31, 2011


Launched in 2009, the intent behind iTunes LP was clear: get users to pay extra money for interactive albums that came with exclusive photos, artist interviews, videos, liner notes, and in some instances, bonus tracks. But for a variety of reasons, iTunes LP never took off. Not only was the selection of iTunes LP enhanced albums laughably sparse for quite some time, but the cool add-on content that came with teh LP albums could only be viewed from within iTunes. Notably, the iTunes LP initiative was originally pushed for by the record labels who make more money when people purchase full length albums as opposed to individual singles. In the end, though, the initiative had a negligible impact on music sales.

But the idea behind iTunes LP is sound. Immersive user experiences for music lovers is great, but limiting that experience to iTunes is prohibitive. But with the iPad now firmly entrenched as a mainstream computing device, the iTunes LP experience may be ready for a second coming.

According to a recent report in the New York Times, the music industry is setting their sights on the iPad and are working hard to deliver iPad versions of albums chock-full of all the extra goodies that came with iTunes LPs.

The Universal Music Group has teamed up with a video company, Eagle Rock Entertainment, to create iPad versions of films about classic albums like Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” with social networking features that allow fan commentary. This month, Bjork announced that her next project, “Biophilia,” will encompass “music, apps, Internet, installations and live shows.”

Last week, EMI released an iPad version of “Until One,” the new album by the dance group Swedish House Mafia. In addition to the album, the $9.99 package comes with documentary video scenes, a large photo gallery and reminiscences written by the band, all arranged like a coffee table book.

Though far too early to ascertain any likelihood of success, the iPad was ostensibly made to house content like enhanced albums in a way that smaller devices like the iPhone and iPod weren’t. And given the medium under which the iPad operates, record companies may even see success by releasing iPad apps with interactive fan material sans any music. A $3.99 app, for example, that offers Sublime fans rare photos, a few music videos, and some exclusive interviews could potentially be a huge revenue stream for record labels looking to supplement the money earned from individual song downloads.


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