Major labels plan new album format without Apple | iLounge News


Major labels plan new album format without Apple

The four largest music labels—Universal, Sony, Warner, and EMI—are reportedly planning a new digital album format called CMX. The Times reports that the new format will offers customers a digital version of the sleeve notes that accompany a physical album, including lyrics and artwork, as well as videos. According to the report, the labels approached Apple about the new bundle format around 18 months ago, but were turned down; Apple is reportedly working on a format of its own, code-named “Cocktail,” which is expected to launch in the next two months.

One senior record label insider told the Times, “Apple at first told us that they were not interested, but now they have decided to do their own, in case ours catches on. Ours will be a file that you click on, it opens and it would have a totally brand-new look, with a launch page and all the different options. When you click on it you’re not just going to get the ten tracks, you’re going to get the artwork, the video and mobile products.” CMX-formatted albums are expected to be rolled out slowly, with only a few releases available at first. “We are not going out in force,” the label source said. “What you are going to see is a couple of releases thrown out there to see what people like. We are working with the retailers now.”

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I don’t see why the labels are still pushing the idea of a whole album. This hangs on the assumption that people who buy ordinary tracks would go with the whole thing if they didn’t have the choice. Personally, I buy a few tracks from an artist I like and then maybe more. If I couldn’t start of with a couple of tracks then all those future sales have gone.

Of course the reality is that I would torrent individual songs if I couldn’t buy the,.

Posted by Fanman on August 11, 2009 at 10:49 AM (CDT)


Great, another format.  And this helps consumers how?  While serious music fans might like the extras found in liner notes, etc, the vast majority of users don’t care.  They’ve tasted the benefits of per track purchasing and prefer that to whole albums.  If you were going to purchase a whole album anyway, maybe this makes sense if there is no price premium slapped on and as long as the embedded songs are still plain old MP3 (to retain backwards compatability with millions of MP3 players).  Any new move to introduce new DRM = Fail. 

Also, if Apple is going their own route, the likelihood that CMX will survive is low.  No iTunes/iPod support is a death blow.  With so many music videos available to stream online for free and lyrics also similarly freely available (check out great iapps like TuneWiki), the value add seems pretty limited.  I admire the attempt to do something new but I don’t think this will appeal to a wide audience and encourage more album sales vs one off track sales.

Posted by Jeff on August 11, 2009 at 11:18 AM (CDT)


News of this gives me flashbacks to Sony’s rootkit issues on people’s computers.

The easiest way to promote album sales is to cultivate good artists and craft strong albums, not this fast-food approach of cranking out one-hit wonders on mediocre collections of songs they loosely refer to as an “album.”

Posted by cchanpsu on August 11, 2009 at 11:56 AM (CDT)



Posted by kcaj on August 11, 2009 at 1:10 PM (CDT)


Fanman, the labels REALLY want you to buy songs other than the hit song from an Album.  Those are the songs that they really rack in the money, because they haven’t spent any money to advertise those songs.  And if they sucker you into buying all 10 songs in an album instead of just the 1 popular song, they make not 9x the profit vs the sale of the hit song, but more like 20-30x the profit.

Posted by dave on August 11, 2009 at 1:29 PM (CDT)


I’m not sure I really get what this is.  And I don’t see how they expect it to go anywhere without the support of the largest music retailer.

Posted by sting7k on August 11, 2009 at 3:41 PM (CDT)


yep, will agree with the rest…..there is so much free legal content now with artist websites, etc. that there is not anything they are going to include with an album that we are really going to pay extra for…geez. 

Apple is in a decent position as they can just try it and see what happens….sony has to make a big deal about it and then watch it flop….hmmmm, maybe they will try to push the PSP as an ipod killer again…


Posted by Tommmy on August 11, 2009 at 5:07 PM (CDT)


Facts are useful, folks… While the iTunes store may indeed be the single largest music retailer, and the only growing segment of music sales is downloads, downloads are still only about 15% of total music sales. Further, album sales are less than 10% of downloads (whereas they are nearly 100% of physical sales). You break that out and you get the following scenario: Album sales represent more than 85% of all music sold, yet only about 1.5% of all music sold is an album sold digitally. In other words, there is far more money in album sales than singles, but album oriented customers so far aren’t buying what they’re selling.

Whether this approach or Apple’s approach will make digital sales of albums more appealing or not I have no clue, since neither product has been released. However, it is mandatory that the music industry figures out some way of making album sales more appealing digitally since that’s where the vast majority of the money is, and not just from a cynical p.o.v., either.

If I were to guess if either the CMX or Apple’s approach will work, I’d say, “NOT”, since most people buying albums are buying the CD or vinyl for not just the notes, but also the lossless archive that neither Apple nor the labels seem interested in delivering online in spite of the relatively insignificant differences in cost of delivering lossy versus lossless with today’s internet. A fancy digital package is no replacement for a lossless archive in this music consumer’s book.

Posted by Code Monkey on August 11, 2009 at 5:49 PM (CDT)


@Code Monkey: An excellent and valuable response to a topic.  Seldom get those! 
I only disagree with one thing, and that was your comment that CDs represent a “lossless” archive.  Pedantic, certainly, but I have to respond that, technically, no digital format is lossless. “Archive” was the key word in your post there, though even that’s debatable—I’ve recently become aware that standard “Red Book” music CDs are not an ideal, or even good, archive format.  For that reason this new digital album format could succeed if it offers a higher-quality reproduction than provided on CD, eg. 24bit/96kHz as are available on some audiophile sites (and closer to the quality used in the recording studio).  I think it would be an excellent incentive and help add value to the format which, as with so many (all?) digital purchases, presumably lacks transferability and thereby denies the purchaser the chance to dispose of no-longer required inventory with some financial reimbursement.  I’ve come to the conclusion that the major drawback of the digital age is this lack of the “second-hand” market.
It’s pretty much a given that a lossy codec will be chosen, in which case I value this initiative very little.  Roll on 24bit/96kHz (or better) Blu-Ray discs, or equivalent…

Posted by SRGB on August 11, 2009 at 6:57 PM (CDT)

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