The Null Device

iTunes LP

The advent of the MP3 has changed the music-listening experience, as many musicians and old-timers will tell you; no longer do you sit on the floor by the Dansette meditating on the 12" square of lovingly designed artwork in your hands as the artists take you on a journey in the order they intended; no, you're free to listen to music a track at a time. Which, of course, has its upsides (for one, since the invention of the CD, the recording industry has been raking it in by requiring artists wanting that one good song to pay for the other 75 minutes of hastily cobbled together filler), but, on the other hand, the experience of the-album-as-totality is no longer there (and a folder of MP3s played in sequence isn't quite the same).

But now, Apple has launched a standard format for encapsulating the other bits of an album. Named "iTunes LP", it includes clickable artwork, lyrics and other media. An "iTunes LP" is downloaded with the AAC files when you buy an album from, you guessed it, iTunes.

A chap by the name of Jay Robinson has dissected this format, finding that it's basically a ZIP file containing HTML, CSS, JavaScript and other resources. There doesn't seem to be any DRM or code signing in use, so it's not unlikely that the .itlp format will break free of iTunes; that we may soon see artists rolling their own, and third-party software playing .itlp files. It'll be interesting to see what comes of this.

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