This is probably a question that the record labels should be asking, but I’ll ask it here anyway: how do you guys listen to music in 2009? On your iPhone (or whatever portable device, it doesn’t matter for the purposes of this here post)? On your computer while you surf your favorite Web sites? At the gym? Now, how many of you will sit in front of your computer, and devote 100 percent of your attention to the iTunes visualizer? Not too many of you, I’d venture to guess.
That’s the problem, as I see it, with iTunes LP, which Apple announced last week during it “Rock and Roll” event, which was characterized by a noticeable lack of rock and/or roll. Now, as I said during our live play-by-play podcast, it’s not like the addition of iTunes LP is bad in and of itself; fine, add it, doesn’t bother me. It just seems so… strange.
This man, Jay Robinson, bought the iTunes LP edition of Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 3. Included in the purchase is an “ITLP” file, which is quite large (up to 500MB). Launching the file, you’re then taken to a table of contents of sorts, from which you can select to play all the songs, read the lyrics, look at some photos, etc. Again, Apple is trying to recreate the feel of “owning” a proper LP. One problem is that, if you’ve never owned an LP, how can you replicate that feeling?
The actual bonus items, again, are fine: some pics, a couple of videos, etc. That’s all fine and dandy. But if you’re never near your computer, if you’re doing your primary listening in the car on the way to work, or at the gym while they play MTV Presents: Some Piece of Junk, Part 2 on the TV, what good does having lyrics or photos handy do? Unless you’re hunched over your computer devoting 100 percent of your attention to the album, all those extra features are lost on you.
I’m trying to think how I mainly listen to music, and it mainly happens when I play World of Warcraft. I can load up Vox—like Devin, I’m a little tired of iTunes taking up incredible amounts of RAM and processor power to play a couple of MP3s—then go about my business in the game. The game volume is kept just loud enough to hear the clash of steel, and the casting of my Shadow Bolt spell, that I can still hear The Blueprint loud and clear. At no point am I thinking, “Man, I’d also love to be able to read the lyrics to ‘On to the Next One’ while I’m fighting trash.”
Again, there’s nothing wrong with iTunes LP per se, it’s just that it seems to deliver something that I can’t seeing be too useful most of the time. And never mind the price: $16.99 for The Blueprint 3, while the standard edition is $10.99. A whole $6 extra for something that I’m never going to use?
Of course, you’re free to call me a giant idiot, I’m just trying to start some sort of hot topic on a Sunday is all.