iTunes Store: Complete My Album subtly much much better than expectedd

I saw the announcement of the Complete My Album feature on the iTunes store.

“Neat”, I thought, “but I doubt I’ll use it.”

I launched iTunes and clicked through. Listed with a bunch of albums for which I have no interest in the rest of the songs, was Hybrid’s Wider Angle: Special Edition.

Huh? I bought that whole album!!

Looking into, there have been two additional tracks made available that were not available when the album was first released*. Not only that, but the two tracks are both 10+ minutes and, as a result, are not offered as singles. And I could– and did– complete the album for $1.17, well under the $.99/track that they would have cost if they hadn’t been album only!

Awesome! So, Complete My Album also works for album purchases where tracks were missing when originally purchased. I will clearly be checkin the Complete My Album section of the store on a semi-regular basis.

*Some may complain that iTunes should have had the complete album in the first place. It isn’t Apple’s decision to make. The record labels make available what they can and want. Sometimes, they hold back content for marketing reasons. But often it is because of rights issues related to the sound recording. Every single performance of an individual song creates a set of sound recording rights for that particular performance and, as a result, any given single performance may have a set of rights limitations that prevent distribution.

This is also the same reason why you see songs disappear from being available in downloadable channels. While you can’t easily recall and replace all the CDs in the sales channel, it is trivial to turn off a digital download and, as a result, if someone raises a rights related stink, the song will disappear until the situation is resolved.

It is all about rights exploitation (yes, that is what the record companies call the sales of music — exploiting the rights granted under the contracts governing the sound recordings). Actually, I wrote about this very subject right after the iTunes store was launched:

Slight digression: In particular, every unique performance of a song is an individual sound recording that may carry its own intellectual property characteristics that can be different than the other songs on the album. Every time a song is performed at a live show, that performance of that song is a new sound recording. Given guest musicians, union rules and venue, the set of property rights associated with a particular sound recording may be quite complex to resolve and achieving the rights to distribute might be prohibitively expensive. The ℗ symbol means “sound recording copyright” and implies that the particular performance of the particular song carries its own set of intellectual property rules that may be different than any other performance of that song. To further complicate matters, the song’s lyrics and score may have different copyrights that affect the sound recording copyright. Playing live ain’t all about jamming on stage with your closes friends– if some random person hops on stage from the audience to play two notes on a harmonica and you suddenly might find yourself without the ability to actually sell a recording of that portion of the performance. (Yes, I did spend some time in the distribution end of the recording industry).

6 Responses to “iTunes Store: Complete My Album subtly much much better than expectedd”

  1. Rosyna says:

    Eligible songs include songs you’ve “won” through the various Pepsi “contents”. So there’s a $0.99 discount applied for each of those songs you got for free..

    They also now seem to prevent you from purchasing the same song twice.

  2. Joe says:


    Something I just noticed – not sure if you caught it – but the option to complete an album purchase has an expiration date for each of your albums.

    – Joe

  3. bbum says:

    Yeah. Saw that. That is a bit annoying. I wonder why. Maybe as an out? Maybe because the record companies insisted on it?

  4. Saad Mahamood says:

    I was sceptical as well when I first saw it. However, that quickly changed once I realised that there was a Hybrid Single EP release in which I didn’t download all the tracks.

    P.S. I found it cheaper to buy Wider Angle at Distinctive Records website as 192 Kbit MP3 files than from iTunes (Saving me £7.99 / $15.72). I dunno if this was due to Inflated UK prices or something else.


  5. bbum says:

    Yeah — I probably could have gotten it cheaper through amazon, but there is something to be said for immediate gratification (and iTunes gift cards, of which I currently have about $90 on account!).

    One subtlety that I don’t think I have seen written up — if you buy some random track that is on both an album and a EP, you can “Complete My Album” for both the album and the EP!

  6. mp3 player review dude says:

    i think the complete my album feature is awesome too, however i wish they would make itunes notify you when an album you have has tracks added, like a little star on the tracks when you listen to it.

Leave a Reply

Line and paragraph breaks automatic.
XHTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>