Nevermind The Beatles, Apple Saved the Album
Though Apple didn't, as widely predicted, announce today that it would sell The Beatles' albums on iTunes—I'm sure the band's ever-neglected fans will find some other way to hear them—the company did announce a new product called iTunes LP, part of a push to encourage consumers to buy entire albums, not just singles. The company now offers downloadable liner notes, photographs and bonus material with the purchase of select albums.
That's significant, though certainly not revolutionary. If you've never used iTunes before, you might have already assumed the company already included this kind of material with album purchases. But it's nice to see these extras now, even if it is a bit belated. Writers have spilled so much ink lamenting the death of the album, often citing the lack of record art and related notes as a shortfall of mp3s, but this step helps assure that the album will live on as an art form even after it ceases to be a physical product.
It's a smart business move, too. Though these digital extras are cheap to produce and even cheaper to distribute, Apple is charging a premium for some of these iTunes LPs, up to $19.99.