Remember enhanced CDs? Remember how, back in 2000, you could totally buy a copy of Deftones' White Pony that featured individual band member facts and pictures, written (!) song lyrics, a rehearsal video, an "exclusive web link" and a Deftones-themed version of Pac-Man? Plus, it would only crash your PC, like, half the time. Well, apparently both Apple and the "world's big four record companies" are working on separate versions of a new type of digital album package that will include liner notes, music videos, interactive features and, you know, the same sort of stuff that was featured--and still is, I'm guessing--on those sensationally unpopular enhanced CDs.
Sony, Warner, Universal and EMI are working on what they're calling the CMX digital album download format, and Apple's version is currently being referred to as "Cocktail." According to some big record exec honcho, Apple passed on the CMX: "Apple at first told us that they were not interested, but now they have decided to do their own, in case ours catches on." Let's let the UK's Times Online break down the album dilemma for us:
The [CMX] format, due to be available in November, 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...Despite the success of singles downloads, the industry has found it harder to persuade consumers to buy digital albums. The 2009 Entertainment Retailers Association handbook shows that only 10.3 million of the 139.8 million albums sold last year were downloads.
Ouch. Apple's Cocktail--the Appletini?--is also due out in roughly two or three months. U2's next album is rumored to be among the trial CMX releases during their "soft launch" (hear that, Adam Gold?), so prepare for some great exclusive videos of Bono softly launching his ego past the furthest reaches of the stratosphere.
Alright, so let's make sure we understand this correctly: With these new album download formats, we'll be able to see pictures of the band and the artwork, watch live performances and hear interviews? If only there was some kind of network of information--some super-highway of sorts--via which I could access videos and pictures and songs for free. Maybe a series of tubes of some kind. Perhaps it's unfair to dog on these folks for trying to keep the album alive; for trying to get at least a fraction of the sales into the hands of artists--after their own fat cut, of course. This is, after all, an enormous industry. If people stop putting money into conventional purchases, they have to think of some way to make money, right? But do they really think this CMX thing will take off? Do you? Does anyone?
(Via A.V. Club)