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Tuesday, October 23, 2007, 09:00 am PT (12:00 pm ET)

Apple's iTunes lands Led Zeppelin, indie film exclusives

Apple announced Tuesday that a special digital box set containing Led Zeppelin's entire discography is now available for pre-order exclusively from iTunes. Meanwhile, the digital download service is also reported to have landed exclusive distribution rights to a new indie film amidst its struggles to gain acceptance from more prominent Hollywood fixtures.

Led Zeppelin Digital Box Set

Apple on Tuesday issued a formal press release to announce that a special digital box set containing Led Zeppelin's entire discography, "The Complete Led Zeppelin," is now available for pre-order exclusively on the iTunes Store.

"The Complete Led Zeppelin" is a 165-track collection of all 13 of the legendary group's albums, including the new career-spanning "Mothership" retrospective, for only $99.

Led Zeppelin's "Mothership," a 24-track collection of the group's best-known songs, hand-picked by Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, is also available today for pre-order. Touching on every studio album, the collection contains defining songs including "Whole Lotta Love," "Rock and Roll" and "Kashmir."

In addition to "The Complete Led Zeppelin" and "Mothership," Led Zeppelin's entire catalog of songs and albums will also be available for individual purchase and download beginning November 13, Apple said.

Fans who pre-order "The Complete Led Zeppelin" or "Mothership" will be automatically entered to win the chance to see the band's reunion performance at London's O2 Arena on November 26 as part of the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute. The winners will receive two tickets to the show, round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations.

"Purple Violets" exclusive indie film

Meanwhile, the New York Times is running an interesting piece on Apple's fledging iTunes movie business, which has been courting top indie films in light of opposition from more prominent Hollywood studios.

The report says that filmmaker Edward Burns, who along with partners invested $4 million in the making of his latest romantic comedy, "Purple Violets," is gambling any chance of recouping his investment on a distribution deal that involves not a single theater.

"On Nov. 20 the film will go up for sale exclusively on iTunes," according to the Times. "It's the first time a feature film will make its commercial debut on Apple's digital download service, but only the latest deal aimed at winning attention for the iTunes movie category."

As recently as Sept. 25, iTunes began distributing a 13-minute short film, "Hotel Chevalier," a prequel of sorts to Wes Anderson's "Darjeeling Limited," as a publicity vehicle for that Fox Searchlight feature. The short, offered free, has since been downloaded more than 400,000 times and has helped drive the early box office performance of "Darjeeling," the studio said.

According to the Times, Apple offers filmmakers a cookie-cutter deal that is generous on paper, compared with Hollywood norms: It charges just 30 cents on the dollar, while, with independent films, another 10 or 15 cents typically goes to an aggregator, or middleman, who converts a film into Apple's format and accounts for the proceeds to the filmmaker. But Apple reportedly provides financial reports only every six months, and "it's safe to say that no one has gotten rich on an iTunes short film yet."

The piece over at the Times also delves into Apple's struggles to gain more popular video content for iTunes, and cites Forrester Research James L. McQuivey as spelling out the obvious: the company is teetering on the brink of failure in regards to its movie download service and Apple TV device.

Apple "is in a little bit of a crisis now," McQuivey said. "If they can't get the content soon, which may be why they're doing all sorts of attention-getting content deals now — they need to show they have some traction in the video space — they stand to lose whatever momentum they've gained."