For now, the iTunes LP Marketplace is effectively closed to indie artists. A Chicago-based indie label called Chocolate Lab Records recently contacted Apple with requests to begin setting up iTunes LP albums for their artists, but were told that major labels are the only ones being considered, and that regardless, there’s a $10,000 design fee that’s expected up front.
Most of the controversy has been focused on the subject of this large dollar figure, which has caused confusion amongst iTunes users and indie music lovers. When it comes to design, one usually gets what they pay for, and it’s certain that the slick iTunes LP offerings currently in the store are actually worth that $10,000 price tag. The puzzle has more to do with Apple taking that money for design in the first place. iTunes LP packages aren’t some secret proprietary format that only Apple can author; they’re essentially based on technologies already used to build ordinary Webpages, and anyone with enough Web design experience could parse one together. It might not be quite as shiny as the ones available from iTunes, but there are plenty of indie musicians whose recordings aren’t perfect, but the iTunes Store is still happy to sell them. Courtesy of itworld.com