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Apple’s “Cocktail” Little More Than “Stir-Crazy” Notion, Light on the Sauce August 5, 2009

Posted by David W. King in Uncategorized.
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Last week, news broke that Apple was in talks with the major labels regarding the creation of the “Cocktail”, a new digital music format will go beyond a simple PDF file of liner notes, and instead bundle photos, videos, lyrics and other assets with an album’s music.

Although I haven’t reported on it until, it isn’t because I missed this story. It was because I was waiting for someone else to confirm what I had suspected.

Another lame idea proposed by the record industry, it turns out this idea is little more than a thinly veiled attempt to extract more gold out of consumers pockets. Or as reported, “It’s all about the Benjamins. ”

Unsatisfied with what it was realizing in digital sales, the record industry had to come up with another idea to sell music, and other products, stirred gently, heavily garnished with possibly a little umbrella and served up for what they hope will bring a bigger price.

Downloadable music didn’t kill the album cover. The CD did. By the time the MP3 format came along, consumers shrugged off the absence of album art and liner notes.

Details remain slim, but label sources confirming the effort’s existence point to it as the digital version of the record sleeves of yesteryear.

The Cocktail format would enable fans to play an album without having to open their iTunes music management software.

While pricing information isn’t available, you can bet Cocktail-formatted albums will certainly cost more than the standard album available on iTunes.

One major-label source reports that when a digital album is released as both a standard music-only download and a deluxe download with extra content, the deluxe version typically outsells the standard one by 85 percent to 90 percent in the first few weeks after its release, even though it usually costs $2 to $5 more.

“It’s not about selling more albums,” a label source says about Cocktail. Cocktail-formatted albums would include only content selected and bundled by the label, but the broader goal would be the same — to offer fans a more immersive digital music experience than they have had with MP3s and CDs.

Apple has already offered a variety of incentives at iTunes to enhance the appeal of digital album purchases. Through a partnership with Ticketmaster, iTunes has bundled digital albums with the purchase of a concert ticket.

Will the Cocktail format drive greater digital album sales? If you are inclined to answer yes, may be it’s time you offered someone else your keys.

For me it wouldn’t matter, even if they were to throw in rolling papers.

If you are uncertain as to what I am talking about here, ask any one who attended college back in the ’60s and ’70s. They can tell you what the album cover of yore was good for.

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