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Labels make album format after Apple rejection

updated 08:25 am EDT, Tue August 11, 2009

CMX Album Music Format

Major music labels are developing their own whole-album music file format after being rebuffed by Apple, a source for a UK newspaper says. Created by EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner, a file format known as CMX would contain both the songs as well as liner notes, attached videos and mobile content. Much like a DVD, it would have its own "launch page" that appears after launching a given file.

The format is tentatively set to launch in November but would have a low-key release without a high profile and with only a small number of titles. It's unknown whether these would cost significantly more than existing downloads. Importantly, however, a tipster paints Apple as attempting to outmaneuver CMX through its rumored Cocktail format for whole albums. It's not clear what differences if any there would be in practice, and the format may be a contingency to prevent a rival format from diminishing iTunes.

"Apple at first told us that they were not interested, but now they have decided to do their own, in case ours catches on," the unnamed label representative claims.

While unconfirmed, a reactionary approach would fit into Apple's business model. Labels have been the primary advocates for moving back to old, more lucrative complete album sales and away from individual songs, and have used tactics such as variable song pricing both to make more profit from singles as well as to upsell customers to full titles. Apple meanwhile has long stated publicly that it sees the iTunes Store as a means of driving iPhone and iPod sales, and therefore benefits most from lowering the price of entry for the songs themselves.

Without support by the market leader, CMX isn't expected to gain much traction as it will be limited to far smaller music stores and to non-Apple players that in the US have to fight for the less than 30 percent of the device business not controlled by iPods.

by MacNN Staff



  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    interesting idea

    actually. But no matter how much extra c*** the labels try to wrap around the 'album', I am still not going to pay them $9.99 or $12.99 or whatever for two good songs and 10 c*** songs.

  1. eldarkus

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Cheers to that Climax!!

  1. JulesLt

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Well . . ..

    We definitely need something, in that the whole MP3 file/playlist thing sucks for albums as a self-contained entity (the artwork either has to be held in each file, or within the iTunes or equivalent metadata) - and personally I still buy many more albums than tracks, because most of the stuff I buy is by artists who don't mostly suck.

    Actually, the OS X bundle format would be an excellent idea, as it allows images and metadata to be attached to a folder, but Windows doesn't support it.

    The problem with this, as far as I can see, is that it doesn't sound like it will be supported by any existing media software. And as far as liner notes, etc, I think emusic and Songbird are showing the way to go - integrate with the web.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Yet, I know people

    that just love to look at album liners and artwork and believe that the album concept is far superior to individual tracks. I never quite understood it because I'm a single track lover. Most of my old vinyl albums were only used to play one or two tracks at most. My iTunes library is mostly singles and never any complete albums. I never much looked at the info contained within the album either.

  1. dliup

    Joined: Dec 1969


    retaarded record labels

    Low IQ record execs, stop pushing DRM. DRM is dead. People like iTunes for a reason, NOT because they want to click a song to see a launch page before they can click few more times to actually play the song (which is what this "format" is suppose to do).

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: retaarded record

    Low IQ posters. Where does it say this is about DRM?

  1. Eldernorm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    @ testudo

    "Where does it say this is about DRM?". Its between the songs in the -- "you must buy the album in our format" statements by the record companies.

    Yeah, its not that obvious..... of course that is the desire of the record companies. They would go back to obvious DRM in a heart beat if they could. :-)

    Just a thought.

  1. Sabon

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I hardly ever buy albums

    I hardly ever buy albums because like others have said, I rarely like more than 2 or 3 songs on them and I'm not going to empty out my wallet or fill up my hard drive and iPods/iPhone with songs I'm never going to listen to. I rarely listen to radio because I have better things to do than listen to things I don't like.

  1. byRyan

    Joined: Dec 1969


    the wheel

    isn't this a bit of re-inventing the wheel. iTunes already has an album option.... that comes with digital booklets, sometimes videos, and sometimes songs you can't get by themselves. I actually prefer album downloads in iTunes cuz you usually get the tracks cheaper and its a good way to discover more by an artist you like.....

    so why do we need a different digital album option?

  1. Climb AZ

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I have been wanting this for a long time. I'm a little dissapointed Apple was not interested at first. I figured Apple would be the one who got the ball rolling and would do it right. But competition is a good thing. If the labels are putting something together and it goes Apple to make a Cocktail then awesome.

    I agree it doesn't make sense to buy an album for one or two songs but if you were planning on buying an album buy it in the store. You get the liner notes, extras, videos and can encode it anyway you want.

    I think there's a big opportunity for Apple to do some cool things beyond the extras that come with a CD. Maybe something like lyrics karaoke style. When the album format comes out I will take a good look and may start buying my albums with iTunes.

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