iTunes Originals is a series of digital releases that were only made available through Apple's iTunes Store. It was developed and produced by longtime KCRW DJ and film music supervisor Chris Douridas, who recruited Stephen Marsh to provide audio mastering for the albums. Each release features the music of a single artist. The releases typically contain more than twenty tracks (some more than thirty), which include music from the artist's body of releases, new recordings (of both previously released and sometimes unreleased songs) specifically for the iTunes Originals, and spoken word tracks that explore the artist's history and work, and/or discuss the next song. Some releases have also included video, both previously released, and originally created for the iTunes Originals. The songs recorded exclusively for the albums are usually recorded live in a recording studio.
Most iTunes Originals albums are available in the United States iTunes Store, with availability in other countries' music stores varying with each release. Occasionally there are Originals available only in other countries; one notable example is Ulfuls' Japanese release, which was the top downloaded album in Japan for the first four days after iTunes first launched in that country in August 2005. Though they are definitely full-length releases (most are longer than the length of even an 80-minute Compact Disc), the fact that a majority of the tracks are either previously released recordings, re-recordings, or spoken word, results in the releases typically not being considered a "primary album release" for the artist.
By 2006, fifteen iTunes Originals albums had charted on the Billboard Top Digital Albums chart, including those by The Fray, Ben Harper, Rob Thomas and Fiona Apple. The best-selling digital-only album of 2005 was iTunes Originals - Sarah McLachlan.
Despite the cover images provided by iTunes, each iTunes Originals release is not simply titled iTunes Originals, but rather iTunes Originals - Artist in the files' album tag, and in iTunes' database.