Apple’s forthcoming iTunes 9 upgrade’s already being touted as the best thing since sliced bread, with reports promising support for Blu-ray, and built in capability to output the music you’re playing to iLike and Last.FM.
Apple’s also meant to be working on Cocktail, a new album format in which music fans don’t just get the music, but also gain access to video, images and all sorts of interactive elements; a radical reinvention of the album format, possibly within an App. But the record labels don’t want Apple to have all the fun, and are developing their own similar mixed musical drink, conceivably to offer this to other digital music operators.
In a combatitive report (we think we’ve sussed the source out, however), the Times claims the majors are set to go head-to-head with Apple when they introduce the new album format that’s being discussed.
“Sony, Warner, Universal and EMI are putting the finishing touches to an album format that will give music fans a computerised version of the sleeve notes that come as standard with a CD, including lyrics and artwork, and videos,” the report explains, promising the format will debut in November.
The labels call the project, CMX, and claim Apple refused to work with them on its development, conjoining them instead to get involved in a similar project, Cocktail.
The label technology will be soft-launched on specific releases, and while we think it will have some success, we suspect Apple’s offering will go further than the description of CMX, which basically only offers lyrics, video, artwork and “mobile products”.
While digital downloads have revivified the singles market, music fans continue to cherry pick album tracks. These new formats are intended to boost album sales online.
Saying this, it does infuriate us that even the success of the Radiohead boxed set experience hasn’t generated a new wave of collectible physical product. We need to move beyond conventional music release forms, and introduce limited edition physical product, bundling in all imaginable digital product, but adding things like exclusive art, T-shirts and merchandise, and all packaged in constructions which straddle the space between marketing and art. In limited editions. At high prices. Which will work.
Meanwhile the labels strive to build the new format solely in order (we think) to ensure non-Apple digital stores can have a chance to compete on album sales.