Saturday, August 1, 2009

Apple To Save The Album?

By David Moore

An article at the Financial Times reports that Apple is teaming up with the four largest record labels in an effort to save the album. In case you haven't been paying attention, Apple's iTunes Music Store is the largest music retailer in the U.S., though most sales are of cherry-picked singles - not many of us are ponying up for the full album. The plan is to begin bundling liner notes, lyric sheets, and other interactive content with full album downloads, hoping to boost album sales in the process. One executive was quoted as saying "It's all about re-creating the heyday of the album when you could sit around with your friends looking at the artwork, while you listened to the music." One assumes it's still up to us to supply the haze in the room.

I may not be your typical music consumer, but as someone who cut his teeth on albums, I've always enjoyed the large format, and I've long been a voracious reader of liner notes. When the industry moved to cassettes, I stuck with albums, making my own cassette copies (TDK SA-90, baby), often on the first spin after purchase. Fast forward a bit, and I had no problems making the switch to CD, but I've been back to the future ever since the MP3 revolution. Yep, I'm still buying whole albums (on CD) 90+ percent of the time, and ripping them into my iPod shortly after. I must admit to questioning this behavior, as there are many CDs that I've only had out of the jewel case once, for the inaugural rip, but I still need those liner notes, the photos, the feel of something physical.

This announcement from Apple may have me changing my tune. With the recent move to many DRM-free, higher quality tracks, the inclusion of liner notes and other content might tip the scale for me, leading to more digital purchases, and fewer CDs. This joint project, code-named "Cocktail," is rumored to be rolling out in September.

David Moore is a technical writer from Broussard. In his spare time he writes a music blog, which you can see here:

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