Author Topic: U2 on iTunes - recent catalog refresh?  (Read 324 times)

U2Joshua

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U2 on iTunes - recent catalog refresh?
« on: June 27, 2019, 05:00:55 PM »
For as many times as I've bought the U2 catalog in it's various iterations, I didn't ever realize at the outset of my Apple fandom how many times I'd end up buying it from Apple as many times as I have, already, much less the temptation to do so once again, at present.

Having first purchased U2 content, la carte, in early 2004, on a per-album basis, followed shortly thereafter in purchasing The Complete U2 in November 2004, I thought, "That's it!  I now own it all!!!  I'll never have to spend another dime on U2, again..."  Silly me.

In 2007/2008 iTunes Plus became a thing, and I paid to upgrade my entire catalog to the improved 256Kbps AAC .m4a files from the originally purchased 128Kbps AAC .m4p files.  Once again, I thought, "That's it!  I now own it all!!!  I'll never have to spend another dime on U2, again..."

Then came the remasters.  One-by-one, I bought the remasters and/or Deluxe Edition remasters on iTunes.  After which, I proclaimed, "That's it!  I now own it all!!!  I'll never have to spend another dime on U2, again..."

Then in 2017 came the hotly new formatted "Mastered for iTunes (MFiT)" released versions of the albums, and once again I bought every album for the then, limited-time, special pricing of $5.99/album, during the first week of their release.  Alas, I proclaimed, "That's it!  I now own it all!!!  I'll never have to spend another dime on U2, again..."

Then, something funny happened, this week...  while cruising FaceBook I saw a pop-up add for iTunes / U2(?). I can no longer find the ad, and don't know if it was an iTunes ad or a U2 ad, but in it, the album artwork for ATYCLB was prominently displayed with a clickable link that said, "Own all your favorite albums, now, for life, at special, limited-time pricing!" or something like that, with a price tag indicating $5.99.  I clicked the bait, and low and behold was taken to iTunes, where ATYCLB was pulled up in the iTunes Store, and wouldn't you know it, the album was not indicated with the familiar "Purchased" icon that I'm accustomed to seeing whenever I look through iTunes' U2 content.  That is, once you purchase an item, you no longer see that item listed for sale, with a price, but it is indicated that you've previously purchased it.

...several (somewhat mildly panicked, mind you) minutes later I concluded that exactly 0 of the currently available-for-purchase U2 studio albums in the iTunes U.S. Store are ones that I've (previously) "Purchased."  That is, the content has once again, apparently, been "refreshed," if you will...

I called Apple Support and spoke to 3 reps, including an iTunes Senior Advisor.  There is no glitch in my profile and no glitch in the iTunes U.S. Store.  In fact, for whatever reason, the U2 catalog has been updated for some unknown reason(s) in recent history.

To test this theory, I was able to compare the Album ID of a given album in the iTunes U.S. Store to the Album ID of albums purchased in 2017 when I bought the entire catalog in the newly minted MFiT format.  Sure enough, none of the Album IDs for the albums I purchased in 2017 match the currently offered versions of the the correspondant U2 album(s) currently available for purchase.

I know not the reason for this.  Apple Support couldn't help me.  Historically, albums have been revamped / updated / refreshed for the reasons already outlined above - higher bitrate (iTunes to iTunes Plus update in 2007), Remasters, Remastered Deluxe Editions, Mastered for iTunes versions, etc...  In this case, I'm aware of no such update.

Curiously enough, the only peculiar markings I can find are on The Best of 1990-2000 & B-Sides https://music.apple.com/us/album/the-best-of-1990-2000-b-sides/1451187684.  Even though it is not updated to a Mastered for iTunes edition, it is now showing with a copyright date of 2017.

Does anyone have any idea what is going on here?  Did Universal secretly, stealthily release "updated" / "upgraded" versions of the albums for one reason or another?  I find it hard to believe the exercise would have been done entirely arbitrarily.

Curiously, the entire catalog is specially priced at $5.99/album, right now for standard releases, and somewhat discounted pricing for compilations and boxsets:  https://music.apple.com/us/artist/u2/78500

p.s.  as a point of comparison, I have a similar amassing of Coldplay's catalog, and the same is not true for my Coldplay catalog. All of my MFiT Coldplay albums from a year or so ago are still the same albums I purchased and show as "Purchased" in the iTunes U.S. Store when I log in to view items for sale.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2019, 06:01:03 PM by U2Joshua »

dagobah

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Re: U2 on iTunes - recent catalog refresh?
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2019, 09:21:19 AM »
For as many times as I've bought the U2 catalog in it's various iterations, I . . . . .
Interesting post.  I have no feedback on the topic but thanks for making the effort to type such a detailed post.

morgan1098

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Re: U2 on iTunes - recent catalog refresh?
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2019, 10:07:57 AM »
My guess is that this has something to do with the imminent demise of iTunes altogether and the transformation to Apple Music. I think that's happening in October with the latest iOS update? It may be nothing more than changing certain ID numbers to fit with the streaming-focused Apple Music moving forward. Of course, if you discover that these "new" versions are actually different in terms of audio or mastering, that's another matter altogether. But I'm guessing they're the same. Gosh, I miss the days of CD.

U2Joshua

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Re: U2 on iTunes - recent catalog refresh?
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2019, 10:21:30 AM »
My guess is that this has something to do with the imminent demise of iTunes altogether and the transformation to Apple Music. I think that's happening in October with the latest iOS update? It may be nothing more than changing certain ID numbers to fit with the streaming-focused Apple Music moving forward. Of course, if you discover that these "new" versions are actually different in terms of audio or mastering, that's another matter altogether. But I'm guessing they're the same. Gosh, I miss the days of CD.

They're different...   :o

U2Joshua

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Re: U2 on iTunes - recent catalog refresh?
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2019, 10:24:17 AM »
Update: I bit the bullet and purchased the "new" version of Wide Awake in America - EP to compare it to the version I purchased in 2017. It is different!

In comparing the file sizes, they are all very close (2017 vs. "new"). The track times are identical down to the 1/1000th second. What is different, however, is the volume mastering such that the new release has far less "clipping" (points in a track where the volume exceeds 0.0dB).

The most notable change is in track 3, "The Three Sunrises." On the "old" (2017) release, the track was rife with clipping (red lines indicate clipping).  In the 2019 version there is no clipping, whatsoever.

2017 version: (attachment 1)

2019 version: (attachment 2)

By all counts, this is an "improvement." In the audiophile world, "clipping" is "bad."  The remaining three tracks on the album are also "improved" but they go from lots of clipping to less clipping.

An additional measure is the Dynamic Range (DR) of the tracks. The DR readings are different between versions.

2017 version: (attachment 3)

2019 version: (attachment 4)
« Last Edit: June 28, 2019, 10:46:08 AM by U2Joshua »

morgan1098

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Re: U2 on iTunes - recent catalog refresh?
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2019, 02:32:24 PM »
Dang!

Kevin

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Re: U2 on iTunes - recent catalog refresh?
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2019, 03:13:03 PM »
I figure they do this from time to time, what better way to get someone to buy again, and again, and again. I know I'm cynical. :-) It's all about revenue at the end of the day.

U2Joshua

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Re: U2 on iTunes - recent catalog refresh?
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2019, 12:04:33 PM »
Update 2: Just bought Rattle and Hum, the "new" (2019) release of the 2017 MFiT Remaster (that's right - the 2017 MFiT was a true "Remaster" while all other albums were not), and I am stoked!!! The volume issue is FIXED!

On the "old" (2017) release the volume jumped between end of track 1 and beginning of track 2. It's fixed in the 2019 version :)

https://music.apple.com/us/album/rattle-and-hum/1442801732
« Last Edit: June 29, 2019, 01:06:08 PM by U2Joshua »

Panama Jack

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Re: U2 on iTunes - recent catalog refresh?
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2019, 01:50:14 PM »
Looking at iTunes, there are literally 2 versions of almost every album. Each with different copyright dates and in some cases, slightly different covers (see Zooropa).

With Rattle and Hum, there's one version with a copyright date of 1988, and another with a copyright date of 2017.  Which did you buy recently with the fixed volume issue?

Similarly, there are 2 versions of Wide Awake in America, one with a copyright date of 2009 and another with a copyright date of 1985. Which one did you buy?

U2Joshua

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Re: U2 on iTunes - recent catalog refresh?
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2019, 03:44:13 PM »
Looking at iTunes, there are literally 2 versions of almost every album. Each with different copyright dates and in some cases, slightly different covers (see Zooropa).

With Rattle and Hum, there's one version with a copyright date of 1988, and another with a copyright date of 2017.  Which did you buy recently with the fixed volume issue?

Similarly, there are 2 versions of Wide Awake in America, one with a copyright date of 2009 and another with a copyright date of 1985. Which one did you buy?

Right, @Panama Jack.  The iTunes U.S. Store is a mess, right now.  Make sure you're getting the "Mastered for iTunes" version of each album.  When you open a given album to view it in iTunes you should see a blue box with the words, "Mastered for iTunes" inside off to the upper right. See the attached screenshots, below.

For Rattle and Hum, it's the 2017 version, labeled Mastered for iTunes - Link:  https://music.apple.com/us/album/rattle-and-hum/1442801732

« Last Edit: June 29, 2019, 03:54:17 PM by U2Joshua »

morgan1098

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Re: U2 on iTunes - recent catalog refresh?
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2019, 12:11:01 PM »
Does anyone even know how iTunes files are going to be handled once iTunes disappears later this year? Apple has said you'll be able to keep all your music. But with the platform switching to streaming-dominant I'd be surprised if all these duplicate albums remain in there. What if you bought the MFiT version of Rattle and Hum but then want to re-download it for some reason later this year? Will it even still exist? Or will there just be a single generic "Rattle and Hum" available for streaming or download with no clues about what mastering it is, etc?

Ok, grumpy old guy rant over.

Panama Jack

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Re: U2 on iTunes - recent catalog refresh?
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2019, 04:34:35 PM »
Does anyone even know how iTunes files are going to be handled once iTunes disappears later this year? Apple has said you'll be able to keep all your music. But with the platform switching to streaming-dominant I'd be surprised if all these duplicate albums remain in there. What if you bought the MFiT version of Rattle and Hum but then want to re-download it for some reason later this year? Will it even still exist? Or will there just be a single generic "Rattle and Hum" available for streaming or download with no clues about what mastering it is, etc?

Ok, grumpy old guy rant over.

Music will still be able to be purchased and downloaded through the Apple Music App exactly as you're able to do in iTunes today.

On Apple's website preview for Catalina, it says:
"Music Store -- For users who still like to own their music, the iTunes Store is just a click away."

https://www.apple.com/macos/catalina-preview/features/