There's word from an indie record-label that iTunes LPs are not for the indies. Introduced at Apple's "It's Only Rock and Roll" event in September, the iTunes LP format adds "bigger than a matchbook" album art, song lyrics, video clips, and other extra content to albums sold through the iTunes store.
Brian McKinney of Chicago-based label Chocolate Lab Records saw some promise in the new format and started looking into the idea of producing for iTunes LPs himself. But the truly small labels may have a hard time getting in. McKinney spoke to the digital distribution manager at his label's distributor, who reportedly told him that Apple charges a $10,000 production fee for iTunes LPs. $10,000 may be less than the heads of Warner Music Group, Sony BMG, Universal Music Group, and EMI spend on breakfast, but could be cost prohibitive for the little label that could (if it had $10,000 handy for each of its acts).
It's not just the cost that prohibits the little labels. According to McKinney, it's also Apple. McKinney says his dude in distribution was told "that LPs aren't being offered to indies and that there are only about 12 LPs being offered right now."
"Foul, foul, filth and foul," cries Cult of Mac's Pete Mortensen. Like a financial analyst moving a stock from "buy" to "sell," Mortensen says iTunes LP has gone from "the first digital album good enough to criticize," to "the first major content misstep in the history of the iTunes Store." Assuming that Chocolate Lab's distributor info is on the up-and-up, Mortensen thinks iTunes LP is "less a new format for music than it is a new form of paid advertising on the iTunes store."