Beyoncé has unexpectedly released her latest album — a “visual album” — exclusively on iTunes. The album is self-titled “Beyoncé.” Selling for $16, the album features 14 songs and 17 videos, which currently cannot be purchased separately.
Guest collaborators include Jay-Z, Drake, Frank Ocean, Pharrell, Timbaland, Michelle Williams, Kelly Rowland, Justin Timberlake, and more. Individual songs will be available for purchase on Dec. 20.
Apple has hired a top traditional radio executive to help make advertising deals for iTunes Radio, Ad Age reports. Michael Pallad, formerly of Cumulus Media, is now leading international ad sales for iTunes Radio. The report notes that Apple is getting ready to “offer the service widely to advertisers in 2014,” following expiration of initial ad contracts made for iTunes Radio’s mid-2013 launch. Apple is seeking year-long commitments from advertisers that are worth at least $1 million. Apple SVP Eddy Cue has said plans are to bring iTunes Radio to more than 100 countries, with the service expected to launch in a number of countries early next year.
Apple is now offering the ability to donate to relief efforts in the Philippines through iTunes, after the devastating effects of Typhoon Haiyan. The option is available at the top of the iTunes store. iTunes will transfer 100 percent of a donation — of $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, or $200 — to the American Red Cross.
As Apple notes, while donors will receive an email receipt, the American Red Cross will be “unable to further acknowledge your donation,” as iTunes doesn’t share personal information with the American Red Cross. The donation doesn’t qualify for any tax deduction, and iTunes Store credit cannot be used. Typhoon Haiyan has already caused a confirmed 1,774 fatalities; estimates claim that as many as 10,000 people may have died in the disaster.
Apple has released iTunes 11.1.3, a minor update with some performance and bug fixes. The new version specifically resolves an issue where the equalizer may not work as expected and improves performance when switching views in large iTunes libraries. The latest version of iTunes can be downloaded via OS X Software Update or the “Check for Updates” options found within the iTunes app, or directly from Apple at http://www.itunes.com.
Apple has released iTunes 11.1.2, its latest update to its venerable media management app. The latest version introduces support for OS X Mavericks, along with support for Arabic and Hebrew languages and performance and stability improvements. The latest version of iTunes can be downloaded via OS X Software Update or the “Check for Updates” options found within the iTunes app, or directly from Apple at http://www.itunes.com.
Apple’s iTunes Radio is expected to launch in the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand in early 2014, Bloomberg reports. A source noted that Nordic countries were “being targeted in the same time frame.” Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue recently said plans are to bring iTunes Radio to more than 100 countries. It appears the streaming radio service will beat Pandora to launch in both the U.K. and Canada, as Apple has already negotiated agreements for international rights with record companies. Pandora doesn’t have similar agreements, instead relying on “rights granted by government entities.”
Apple has released iTunes 11.1.1, which fixes a problem with deleted podcasts and resolves an issue that may cause iTunes Extras to display incorrectly. The minor update can be downloaded at iTunes.com, or installed through the OS X App Store.
Apple is offering a $22.99 credit to customers who purchased the fifth season of Breaking Bad via the iTunes Season Pass. Customers expecting to get the full final season found the 16 episodes were split into separate “seasons” by iTunes, requiring separate purchases — the episodes were split into two parts by AMC, but they were still considered part of the same season. One man recently filed a class action lawsuit seeking $14.99 or $22.99 depending on whether viewers purchased the Season Pass in standard or high definition. Apple’s credit is enough for viewers to purchase the high definition pass.
Apple’s email reads, “We apologize for any confusion the naming of ‘Season 5’ and ‘The Final Season’ of Breaking Bad might have caused you. While the names of the seasons and episodes associated with them were not chosen by iTunes, we’d like to offer you ‘The Final Season’ on us by providing you with the iTunes code below in the amount of $22.99. This credit can also be used for any other content on the iTunes Store. Thank you for your purchase.”
Apple has released iTunes 11.1 to the public, including new features such as iTunes Radio, Genius Shuffle, and customizable Podcast Stations. The update also is required for syncing with iOS 7, which should be released shortly. iTunes terms and conditions have also changed, with “additional information regarding authenticating your account for purchases,” information on automatic delivery of app updates, and Popular Near Me information all included now. The iTunes update can be downloaded from Apple’s website.
Apple is being sued by an Ohio man who claims he’s owed $22.99 for not receiving all 16 episodes in the iTunes Season Pass for Breaking Bad — the fifth and final season of which was split into two parts by AMC. The suit claims Apple engaged in false advertising, as the Season Pass page notes that viewers will get “every episode in that season,” but Apple only provided the first eight episodes with the pass. The suit makes the case that the last 16 episodes of the show have always been referred to by show creators as “Season 5.” The class action suit seeks either $14.99 or $22.99 depending on whether viewers purchased the Season Pass in standard or high definition. [via GigaOM]
With the return of Apple’s annual iTunes Festival for 2013, the company has once again added a dedicated Apple TV section allowing users to access and stream content directly onto the Apple TV. An update to the free iTunes Festival universal iOS app has also just been released, refreshing the design and allowing users to stream live and on-demand content directly to their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Content can also be streamed directly to a Mac or Windows PC via the iTunes Festival Page in the iTunes Store.
The Festival will feature 30 nights of free, live music from more than 50 artists performing at the Roundhouse in London from September 1 to September 30, 2013. Previous shows are expected to be available for a limited time via iTunes, the Apple TV, and the iOS app, and it is unclear for how long the iTunes Festival section will remain available on the Apple TV following the conclusion of the event on September 30th.
AdAge reports that Apple’s new iTunes Radio service will be joined by a number of high-profile advertising partners when it debuts next month, including such big names as McDonald’s, Nissan, Pepsi, and Proter & Gamble. The multi-million dollar deals will include twelve-month advertising campaigns that will run within the streaming music service, as well as exclusivity within each of their respective industries through the end of 2013.
iTunes Radio will reportedly include three forms of advertising: interstitial audio and video ads in addition to interactive full-screen “slate” ads that will appear on iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, and desktop PCs and Macs via iTunes. Audio ads will apparently be served up once every 15 minutes, while video ads will appear once per hour, at times that users are likely to be looking at their device’s screen. At launch, ads will be run across all devices, however plans are said to be in the works to allow advertisers to target ads to specific devices, with advertising costs based on screen size. As previously announced by Apple, an ad-free option will be available for iTunes Match subscribers.
Apple has released iTunes 11.0.5, intended to fix an iTunes in the Cloud related issue where “some purchased may download or play unexpected items.” In addition to the public release of iTunes 11.0.5, Apple has also posted iTunes 11.1 beta 2 to the iOS Developer Site. The initial iTunes beta added support for iTunes Radio; it is unclear what has changed in beta 2, although it presumably addresses the same iTunes in the Cloud issue as the public release.
Apple is now offering a sale on iTunes movie and TV bundles, featuring some surprisingly deep discounts. For example, the entire eight-film Harry Potter collection is being sold for $10 in SD or HD, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is being offered for the same price. The Godfather Trilogy, Back to the Future Trilogy, and a 10-film Star Trek collection are also offered, among many other bundles. Some discounted bundles have appeared in the TV show section as well, including The Sopranos Seasons 1-3 and 4-6 for $45 each—notably down from $125 total before, but up from $40 per bundle several days ago—and a Fan Favorites collection from Star Trek: The Original Series for $10.
Update: Some of the bundle prices were changed early in the sale — the Harry Potter collection went from $10 to $60, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy changed to $18, and some other prices changed, as well. Though some of those early prices were likely accidental, some buyers did get bundles for those low initial prices.
Apple rolled out movie support for iTunes in the Cloud across eight more countries today: Austria, Estonia, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Switzerland. Users in those countries can now re-download previously purchased iTunes movies. Notably, Apple has yet to mark the countries as now offering movie support on the iTunes in the Cloud and iTunes Match Availability page. There are still a number of countries in which Apple offers support for music and music videos in iTunes in the Cloud, but not movies. [via MacRumors]
An outage with Apple’s iTunes Store is preventing some users from making purchases, as well as completing transactions that were underway at the time of the outage. The issue has continued for nearly two hours as of this writing, according to Apple’s System Status page. iLounge editors have experienced the problem firsthand, in the form of being unable to complete video purchases, and through in-progress app downloads that won’t authorize via iTunes.
Update: Apple’s System Status page is now showing a number of issues with other services. According to the status page, “Users may be unable to make purchases from the App Store, iTunes Store, Mac App Store, or iBookstore. Users may also be unable to download previously-purchased content, use iTunes Match, or successfully restore Apps and Music from an iCloud backup.”
Second update: All of those services have been restored, but now some users are unable to make FaceTime calls, according to Apple’s System Status page as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern.
Alongside today’s release of iOS 7 beta 4, Apple has also posted a beta version of iTunes 11 for Registered iOS Developers.
Listed as iTunes 11 beta 1, the new version includes support for iTunes Radio for those in the U.S. It also notes that OS X 10.7 or later is required for iTunes Radio support.
Using the iTunes Store to spread the news, Apple has confirmed that one billion podcasts have been subscribed to on iTunes. A special new section in the iTunes Store Podcasts section spotlights “some of the most popular podcasts of all time, as well as a collection of captivating new shows.” These featured podcasts are grouped into “The Classics,” “What’s Hot,” and “New & Noteworthy.” Podcasts on iTunes launched in the summer of 2005.
Apple will pay royalties for iTunes Radio based on both how many times listeners hear a song, and how much advertising Apple sells, according to a report. iTunes Radio will pay labels 13 cents each time a song is played, in addition to 15 percent of net advertising revenue, “proportionate to a given label’s share of the music played on iTunes.” The rates will rise to 14 cents and 19 percent of ad revenue in the second year of iTunes Radio. These rates exceed the 12 cents per listen paid by Pandora, which is very similar to iTunes Radio.
It’s notable, however, that a number of songs played on iTunes Radio will be exempt from paid royalties. These include songs already in a listener’s iTunes library, songs on an album that is partially owned by a listener, and “Heat Seeker” tracks selected for special promotions. Apple also avoids paying royalties for songs skipped before 20 seconds have played, but the company can only avoid royalty payments for two songs per hour. These terms, given to independent labels, are “similar but not identical to” the terms given to the three major labels — Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment. There are also references to terms regarding the use of music in talk, weather, sports, and news programming on iTunes Radio, but the report notes “it’s unlikely Apple will invest much in creating such programming.” [via The Wall Street Journal]
Noted within Apple’s official announcement regarding HBO GO and WatchESPN launching on Apple TV, the company has disclosed that iTunes users have downloaded more than one billion TV episodes and 380 million movies from iTunes. While the numbers pale by comparison with app and song download numbers, they represent interesting milestones for video content. Apple notes that iTunes users are now purchasing more than 800,000 TV episodes and more than 350,000 movies per day. The Apple TV now offers users more than 60,000 movies and more than 230,000 TV episodes.