This past week had a lot of stories surrounding new Apple projects. Their music-related one has been dubbed the ‘Cocktail’ project, which many are touting as a ‘next generation digital album experience’. According to the Financial Times, the project intends to bundle full-length albums with interactive material, including photos, lyric sheets, liner notes and clips from music videos.
While many have praised Apple’s conscious decision to ‘help’ the music industry out, sources have also claimed that it was the majors who first banded together to create a new format titled CMX that would serve the same purpose. It was reported that they approached Apple about involvement in the project and were snubbed. And now news of this Cocktail project? Is anyone surprised? Why the industry made the mistake of putting all of their faith (and then some) into a technology company who has shown little remorse for instilling the cherry-picking mind-set is beyond me.
The details are quite hazy of either project (if there are two separate projects even) but apparently the majors’ CMX project is due for a partial rollout in November. The Times reported “the format is aimed at boosting the sales of album downloads, which online buyers have failed to warm to despite a huge surge away from CD sales towards their digital counterparts. Although more than nine out of ten of all singles sales are made in digital form, for albums that figure is reversed”.
One important detail left out from these reports is how this new file format will be playable. Will it be connected through iTunes or will users need to download a new, independent programme? If it’s the latter and if Apple decides CMX is unfit for iTunes (or in direct competition of their Cocktail project) then why are the majors bothering?
Digital music purchasing is still only done by a few…namely those with enough disposable income yet ones who aren’t too old or still wary of ‘the internet’. Tacking another programme to download could turn off the older generation would be willing to download it to ‘keep the album-loving sentiment alive’, leaving the tech-savvy (and pirate-savvy) public who won’t pay for the files. Also, unless there is tight DRM such as a serial number attached to each file the whole concept makes little sense; as soon as the files get released people will still put them up on torrents and pass them around.
Maybe it’s simply the lull of late summer but the media can’t seem to theorize and hypothesize enough about this and other Apple projects that are cropping up. Now combined with rumors of an Apple keynote event in early September, many sites are reporting on any scrapes of gossip they can, which can only lead to disappointment. Remember the rumors of the iPhone 3G S bringing forth a possible ‘new mobile economy’? The atmosphere of anticlimax was palpable after the release, and it was nobody’s fault but our own.
If these rumors are true and Apple is competing directly against the majors, it’d be difficult to see how the majors could win. The most remote hints of a new Apple product cause a collective orgasm of the entire blogosphere and even legitimate news sites (proven with this supposed new ‘Tapplet/iTab/iTablet’ and dubious pictures of the product as well as the proposed iTunes 9 software). The continuous overextending of Apple’s limits is the last thing the music industry needs.