According to a report from Metro this morning, Apple will be discontinuing its multimedia album format iTunes LP starting at the end of this month. The report claims Apple informed industry partners that iTunes LP submissions will not be accepted after March 2018 and that existing LPs will be removed from the iTunes Store through the end of 2018.
iTunes LP was released in 2009 as part of Apple’s ongoing efforts to bring the music industry into the online age and bundled music tracks, photos, and videos into sets similar to multimedia CD/DVDs. Once downloaded, each iTunes LP offered an interactive experience through which songs could be heard alongside graphics or videos, encouraging users to purchase a complete album at full price rather than buying individual songs.
While Apple’s decision to pull the feature was apparently shared with industry partners two weeks ago, Metro today shared details of a letter titled “The End of iTunes LPs,” originating from “The iTunes Store” and signed by “The Apple Music Team.” According to the letter, while iTunes LP content will no longer be accepted after March 2018 and will be “deprecated from the store during the remainder of 2018,” Apple will preserve some access to iTunes LPs: “Customers who have previously purchased an album containing an iTunes LP will still be able to download the additional content using iTunes Match.”
An attempt to download a previously purchased iTunes LP through the iTunes Store today yielded only audio tracks, minus the iTunes LP multimedia content. It’s unclear how iTunes, which has been heavily updated with Apple Music and other integrations since iTunes LP’s debut, currently handles the feature. An iTunes Store link to “See All Albums with iTunes LP” doesn’t appear to work when tapped within the store, but it can be accessed by clicking above. The store’s list of “Recent Releases” for the format spotlights albums dated 2014 and earlier.
Although Metro sensationally suggests that the reported discontinuation of iTunes LPs “has sparked fears it’s planning to kill off iTunes” and “chimes with rumours that Apple is intending to stop selling music downloads and shift to a subscription model,” the move is unlikely to have anywhere near that impact. Though hundreds of iTunes LPs were released, the format never achieved mass popularity, and the announcement is specific to one very small segment of store content.
We have reached out to Apple for comment and will update it if we hear anything new or different on the story.