Could An Apple “Cocktail” Bring New Life To The Album & The Music Inudstry?

Apple's cocktail Applelogo Apple and the four major label groups are reportedly collaborating on an interactive album bundle that would add additional content like liner notes, lyrics, videos and more to every album download.

Code named Cocktail, "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," one executive familiar with the initiative told the Financial Times. "It's not just a bunch of PDFs. There's real engagement with the ancillary stuff."

If it caught on, Cocktail could help save an industry suffering from the lower profits garnered by single track sales.  And deeper engagement with the album could also lead to more loyal fans who know and care enough about the artist to consider their next album project as well.

But the new format may come with a hefty price. 

Cocktail's full interactivity appears to be designed to be part of a new top secret tablet computer/entertainment hub that Apple is rushing to market to compete with the net book mini-laptop boom.  In addition to Cocktail, the web connected device would also offer a rival Amazon's Kindle book reader as well as play videos as well as perform other computing functions.

Both Cocktail and the new device could be launched as early as Fall, but a Christmas launch seems more likely according to a variety of sources.

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  1. The thing these guys don’t get is that there is so much content out there for every record, all of which is free, that NO ONE is hungry for a higher priced product, even if it is richer. This is the same thinking that brought about the Dual Disc – remember that? I remember sitting in Sony meetings with Andy Lack while he opined that the CD/DVD Hybrid with “unique content” would be a “next gen product” that consumers would scoop up. Feh.
    There are so many videos, interviews, ringtones, b-sides, etc out there for every record for FREE. It’s nice to think that a digital album would be richer, especially from an artwork standpoint. But let’s face it, this is another move by the labels to get the price of digital albums UP. They hate the fact that people are buying primarily singles, because there is so little margin in a single. This is a move to get people to buy the album again, plain and simple.
    The real savior of the business is figuring out a model where consumers are encouraged to share music while generating revenue for artists. That is where the entire future of the music business lies, not in higher priced products.

  2. Ah a new format, and a proprietary one at that. We’re all going to have to rebuy our collections in this format to get all of that extra joy… not bloody likely
    Two things, new format not the answer. Period.
    Closed? Exclusive? Once again not the answer.

  3. I agree 100% – it seems they are missing the point.
    Many of us remember those days of wandering around the record store, admiring album covers…knowing that we were headed home to put something new on our stereo and listen to it from start to finish.
    It would be great if everyone wanted to purchase entire albums again, but for the next generation of listeners/consumers to get a taste for the album experience, it will obviously take something besides a higher price tag.
    The concept of p2p sharing also benefiting the artist/rights holder would be revolutionary, but it looks like it may be up to the next generation of “record” labels and independent artists themselves to remember the purpose of the music business.

  4. The only truly effective and productive model would be to sell advertising and possibly subscriptions or premiums.
    I can see Spotify really taking off in the next 1-2 years with these revenue sources alone. But you are right, people just won’t see the logic in purchasing music or musical content. What’s the point?

  5. Re: Owen
    It’s important to note that the new format isn’t directed at you. Think about Lil’ Wayne cd’s with bonus mp3s and video content and codes for discounted merchandise or concert tix or remix downloads. Closed might not be the answer when they can get the extras elsewhere for free, but this is a different scenario.

  6. The problem they face is that people aren’t really experiencing that feeling anymore. It’s because the listener doesn’t invest in their music like they used to. When the whole record store is at your fingertips online and for free, there isn’t the same incentive to squeeze every last ounce of value out one or two records at a time.
    The labels are coming up with stuff to artificially build that sort of experience in to what they are currently selling. Unfortunately for them, the current climate really isn’t supportive of that strategy.

  7. New format is the answer. Just look at the film industry. We need to protect artists.

  8. Apple knows iTunes growth is dropping off and they are trying to find a way to keep digital music going.
    The problem is that this “fancy package” is not the answer. Nobody cares for the digital booklets.
    We are getting saturated in the digital space and we need some innovation, kids.

  9. If innovation is what you are after. Why don’t they go with augmented reality. Here is a good demo of it from tops baseball cards
    This could easily be applied to music. Perhaps a small guitar hero like game where you can play the songs on the album using the a hologram of the artist. Or maybe a hologram of the artist explaining how they recorded the album. The possibilities are endless.
    Since this requires a website you have to register on and it’s not something you can download. This is a great way to monetize special packaging and give people something that is not only interesting. But worth paying for

  10. This package has existed for decades, right? It’s called vinyl and sales are up, people love it.
    I buy vinyl for this exact reason and it’s cooler AND more expensive than whatever digi-crap Apple has in the works.

  11. I can’t believe we missed this.
    It’s obvious that these two news items are related. The new Apple tablet is a device that will make viewing these next gen titles appealing. Cocktail will be the new music format for this device, at a price point above current digital album pricing.
    Apple and the labels are talking because Apple needs rich content to sell their new device, and the labels need a digital product that generates more margin than a single.
    Do the math – iPod sales are dropping (cannibalized by the iPhone) – the new Apple tablet will enable much more engaging interactive experience than the iPod. This device will display video and images at a nice size, yet it’s still portable. Digital albums, which at the moment are just files and an album cover, can now be much more like Neil Young’s Archive Blu-Ray – but content can be continuously updated without the need for a physical good counterpart.
    I’ve changed my mind. I think this device will make the “cocktail” idea unbelievably interesting, and if artists rise to the challenge, we’ll see much cooler stuff than any old vinyl album jacket. I’d bet money that these two things are connected.
    Smart move on Apple’s part – this will make the Kindle look like an 8-track player by comparison.

  12. I agree with Justin (above)- the LP is not replaceable. None of this digital stuff will ever come close, because the difference is all about the experience. Listening to an LP is not possible while working out/driving/sitting in class/staring at the back of someone’s head at the post office. You have to WANT to sit down and listen, spend some time with the music when you buy vinyl. That’s the point.
    Of course, that notion doesn’t fit with the current mode of music consumption, which is the norm today. I don’t think most people can sit still long enough to listen to an entire album anymore…

  13. DSD can top vinyl…and only DSD…it’s the SACD file format sans META DATA and DRM….It plays back on playstation3 and several other devices and it can be downloaded….it’s 1 bit 2.8 Mghz.
    Check wheatuscom for DSD for Playstation3 Downloads.
    There is absolutely no excuse for this format not being offered at iTunes by all the labels…It would have saved music by now because it is the real deal.
    Sound is round and bits are square. DSD is the only way forward.

  14. I agree with most of comments here. A new format and artwork, liner notes and lyrics may not be the answer. Nor will Mariah Carey’s latest attempt to include ads in her liner magazine to make up for lower sales. But at least they are doing something. They have to. They don’t know what else to do. It’s come to the point that they are throwing every idea at the wall to see what sticks.
    But let’s not count this endeavor out yet. Nobody really wanted the iPod and look where that went. Same with iTunes. Any action is better than inaction. And that’s what most of the industry is doing now – sitting around and waiting. Let’s see what Apple can do. Hell, I’d be happy if they just included credits in iTunes.
    Dave Lopez – Mixing and Mastering Specialist
    Cr@zyEye Music Services
    Marketing Music Online

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