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News

Labels Hoping Apple’s Cocktail Will Stir Up Album Sales

 

After spending years trying to snub Apple, record labels may be turning to the company in an effort to help boost album sales. Apparently Apple is working on a project code-named "Cocktail" that bundles interactive ebooklets and liner notes with music downloads, and the music industry is hoping it will convince consumers to purchase complete album downloads instead of individual songs, according to the Financial Times.

Unnamed sources claim that EMI, Sony Music, Warner Music and Universal Music Group are working with Apple on Cocktail with a September launch time frame in mind. One executive commented "It's all about recreating the heyday of the album when you would sit around with your friends looking at the artwork while you listened to the music."

Content bundled with album downloads could include liner notes, photographs, lyric sheets and video clips.

If Apple really is working on Cocktail, the project could be another indication that the recording industry is still using shotgun tactics in hopes of finding a way to reverse declining in music CD sales. Cocktail could also be a sign that labels are warming up to Apple again instead of worrying that the Mac and iPod maker holds too much control over music distribution.

The idea that the music industry is willing to give Apple more control over content distribution, however, doesn't seem likely. The labels have locked horns with Apple over pricing, pushed for subscription sales over per-download sales models, and offered content for download on competing services before iTunes. It seems to be a bit of a stretch to assume the labels have suddenly reversed course and are now excited to give Apple more control over content.

Recording label representatives and Apple have not commented publicly on whether or not Cocktail really is in the works.

 

5 comments from the community.

You can post your own below.

Lee Dronick said:

Lyrics I would like. I often sing along when in private, there is a court order preventing me from singing in public

   Quote

vasic said:

It took more than two years for the labels to finally complete their experiments. In April 2007, EMI became the first label to offer DRM-free tracks. Five months later, Amazon launched its store with DRM-free music from ALL labels (including Universal). Meanwhile, Apple is still forced to sell DRM-free. Zune is launched with its Zune Marketplace and point system. Labels let this run for about a year and a half like this. They watch their sales decline, the volume of (legal) downloads rise, and iTunes continue to thoroughly dominate the industry, becoming the largest retailer of music (download or CD) in the US, ahead of even the big Wal-Mart. Eventually, labels read the writing on the wall and capitulate. DRM is history, music is set free.

Labels cannot do ANYTHING without the blessing of Apple anymore. This initiative, the primary purpose of which is to re-introduce the concept of the Album, which was the main, if not the only driving force behind their business for the past 30 years. As iTunes became such driving force, so has the album begun losing out to singles. First time around (when singles disappeared together with vinyl), labels simply killed the single by forcing everyone to buy album CDs (and forcing musicians to write, record and produce a dozen songs in order to get signed). This time around, there’s Apple, which simply won’t let labels sell bundles without selling singles anymore. So, this time around, labels are actually thinking about the consumers and planning to offer additional value with that bundle. Yes, there will most likely be crappy tracks in that album bundle, but you’ll also get other interesting stuff, which you won’t be able to get with a single.

This is a triumph for a consumer, and I’m sure Apple will not have objections to it. I have no doubt, if anything does save music industry, it will be their shift towards the consumers, for a change. Who would have guessed…?

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marcsten said:

Well, as someone who still buys LPs not CDs, then burns them to CDR for car or other use, I can tell you all the reasons stated for loving LPs in the story are true. The thing is, I am a dinosaur. Most younger people (I am 50) could care less about the LP experience. They just want some tracks in their iPod library. I hope I am wrong, but I doubt it. And Sir Harry, you don’t want to hear me sing either, although that doesn’t stop me at home.

   Quote

vasic said:

Marcsten:

The LP experience was superior to CD experience for a good reason. At the time, consumers had the choice of buying singles (with hits) or albums. For labels, the cost of pressing albums was just pennies higher than for singles, but retail price was significantly higher. So, in order to motivate consumers to buy those high-margin albums, they HAD to offer a better experience. In addition to “long playing” record (where you could be making out to “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” for 25 minutes without having to flip a record), you also did get the actual album—a fairly large sleeve for that record, with a lot of interesting information.

The CD generation hasn’t seen the singles, nor the actual albums, so when the downloads came, they jumped on the chance to only get the stuff they want. CD didn’t offer anything of value over a single download; only a few crappy tracks that were the filler for the good ones on the album. Rare were the artists that took the constraints of the form and filled them with true works of art.

If Labels get this right, they just may re-create that album experience, but for the digital age. Hey, you never know (as the lottery people tend to say…).

   Quote

cb50dc said:

Hey, move over and lemme jump on this nostalgia train…

What I miss from LP’s is the artwork, the notes (actually LEGIBLE, unlike so many CD inserts). I had something like 400 LP’s at my peak; I still have about half of them. And there’s the occasional truly unique jacket creations with at least the first pressings of albums such as Jethro Tull’s Stand Up, the Stones’ Sticky Fingers, the maybe excessive stuff with Chicago’s Carnegie Hall box set, Soft Machine’s first album with the rotating wheel, and others—plus the occasional poster, or novelty of colored vinyl (e.g., Nazz Nazz was blue; J. Geils’ Bloodshot was red), or Dave Mason’s color-spun-out vinyl of Alone Together. All a much more visceral experience.

And for that matter, speaking of Apple records, the zen of that classic White Album: a small white CD insert just doesn’t convey the feel (and certainly not the posters and so forth).

And still—I’m lovin’ downloads. I can keep my entire collection in a freakin’ hard drive. Very space-efficient. I have no complaints in that most practical regard.

Rock on, baby.

   Quote

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