Monday, July 27, 2009

Apple Looking to Save the Album with Tablet, iTunes Extras

Apple, the company that has sped the downfall of the CD by becoming the top (legal) provider of recorded music, is now said to be making moves to save the album format.

As originally reported in the Financial Times and explained here on All Things Digital, Apple is planning to release a long-awaited tablet computer before the holidays, bigger than an iPod touch but smaller than a MacBook, that is being "prepped to launch alongside a next-generation digital album format Apple is cooking up with the four largest recording companies, one designed to gin up sales of CD-length music."

The Financial Times mentions a September release for the Apple tablet (the same time that the company usually refreshes its iPod lineup), and suggests that the tablet will have a 10-inch screen. It also says that Apple has been working on the project, codenamed "Cocktail," with the four major record labels.

All Things Digital calls the project a "new music format that will gather songs, photos, lyrics sheets, video clips and liner notes into a sort of interactive booklet." notes that, "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." The site notes that the concept will not really bring a lot more money to Apple, but could be a boon for the music labels that partner with the computer maker.

Will these kind of extras encourage people to buy albums instead individual tracks? Would they get you to buy an album? As a guy who grew up with the album format (going all the way back to vinyl LPs, in fact), I've always liked the idea of a cohesive group of tunes, so I buy albums anyway (unless I find during sampling that there are only one or two good tracks on it).

It will be interesting to see if this project, assuming it comes off as predicted, will nudge other music consumers to do the same.

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