Apple's Secret Plan To Save The Album

Apple is working on a project codenamed “Cocktail,” with EMI, Sony Music, Warner Music and Universal Music Group to offer interactive content along with music on its iTunes store, the FT reports:

Apple wants to make bigger purchases more compelling by creating a new type of interactive album material, including photos, lyric sheets and liner notes that allow users to click through to items that they find most interesting. Consumers would be able to play songs directly from the interactive book without clicking back into Apple’s iTunes software, executives said.

The service is expected to launch in September, which is when Apple typically updates its iPod lineup ahead of the holidays.

The main idea is to get people spending $10-20 at a time on iTunes — on a multimedia-bundled album — instead of $1-2 on one or two single-song downloads. While it won’t mean much for Apple’s bottom line — it runs iTunes near breakeven, or at a small profit — it could help Apple’s partners in the music business if it takes off.

However, some music industry executives are already unhappy, says CNET. A music industry source alleges that Apple’s “Cocktail” is similar to a plan that 4 top music companies pitched to Apple 18 months ago. He tells CNET that Apple refused their idea, and is now taking credit for it.

He also criticised Apple’s decision to develop a proprietary technology for “Cocktail,” adding that despite Apple’s rejection, the labels developed their own software to release interactive albums:

CNET: The largest recording companies have continued to develop software that will help them release their own version of a new interactive album. Apple will have Cocktail, but Amazon and all the other competing services will get access to the labels’ version, which will offer more content than Apple’s, said the music industry source.

More content, perhaps, but a better experience? The music industry’s history developing compelling software — none whatsoever — could easily explain why Apple went ahead on its own. If its goal is to make awesome experiences that help sell more iPods and iPhones — perhaps multi-touch stuff that will only work on Apple products — why wouldn’t Apple do its own thing?

Image: Saquan Stimpson

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