Apple's "Cocktail" may spur whole album sales in iTunes

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Worried that their iTunes music sales are being reduced to nothing but single-song purchases, major music labels are now reported as working with Apple to bundle special apps with albums and rekindle whole album sales.



Known so far only under its "Cocktail" nickname, the effort is purportedly a multi-party collaboration between Apple as well as EMI, Sony, Warner and Universal that would go well beyond the PDF liner notes often included today.



According to those speaking to the Financial Times, Cocktail would seemingly resemble an app and include both the usual notes but also separate lyrics, photos and other material that listeners could navigate outside of the usual iTunes player. It would even be possible to play all the songs from this environment.



The move would primarily be instigated by financial worries at the labels. While the actual volume of music sales is large, the larger music publishers have been unhappy with the preference towards per-track sales on iTunes instead of full albums, which have been in free fall both in iTunes and in physical stores. Profit margins on individual songs are claimed to be tight even with significant price hikes for some of the most popular music, and whole album sales often generate more relative income. An unnamed executive has supposedly also considered it a form of nostalgia: the aim is partly to wind the clock back to the "heyday of the album" when people would listen to whole albums from start to finish, he says.



If true, the bonus material would be ready for iTunes by September, just in time for Apple's by now annual special music event that may also bring camera-sporting iPods.



Additionally, the newspaper makes tentative assertions that Apple's upcoming tablet device will launch relatively near Cocktail and would have access to both the App Store and the iTunes Store. Whether it would actually support Cocktail isn't mentioned, but in this view it would be an "entertainment device" rather than a full computer. Seeing it as a technically more advanced counterpart to the kindle, book publishers are claimed to be very interested in having e-books on the device.



Doubts are cast on some of these claims by AppleInsider's own historically reliable sources, who noted that Apple chief Steve Jobs has personally scheduled the tablet for early 2010 -- well away from September and the supposed holiday timeline. These tipsters have previously confirmed that it uses a roughly 10-inch display and an ARM processor rather than the x86 architecture chips used in MacBooks.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 118
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,885member
    I don't care what they do...if I only like 2 or 3 songs out of the album I'm only gonna buy the 2 or 3 songs. I refuse to waste money on an entire album and then only listen to a couple songs.
  • Reply 2 of 118
    ipeonipeon Posts: 1,122member
    Not interested. Thank you.
  • Reply 3 of 118
    It certainly is easy to see why the labels want this. It's much easier to make loads more profit if you can sell 8 songs of crap along with 2 good songs. Particularly if you only have to advertise 1 or 2 of the 10 songs. It's WAY more expensive for the labels to have to advertise all the songs on a particular album, so they have stuck with the old-school 'publicize the hit' model, along with various forms of payola [like they ever stopped].



    Unfortunately, people have wised up to this, and now are happy to just purchase the actual songs they like.



    I would predict these stupid bundling deals, where you get a bunch of crap at a reduced price if you buy a lot of it, won't be particularly successful. So they'll probably wind up adding some kind of click-through barrier, to make it artificially more difficult to purchase individual songs (or make it easier for you to accidentally purchase the crundle [crundle™ is a crap bundle]).
  • Reply 4 of 118
    pmoeserpmoeser Posts: 79member
    Stay with the current model. At least you're getting some money. Make it hard and expensive and file sharing will go back through the roof.

    I would consider buying a whole album if it meant they would automatically include the song lyrics in the song files.

    Why they don't now is just beyond me.

    (I know it's because publishers own rights to the words, but don't most record companies own the publishing rights in most cases? Just another grab for cash)
  • Reply 5 of 118
    1337_5l4xx0r1337_5l4xx0r Posts: 1,558member
    I just don't see how Apple's tablet is going to succeed where all other tablets have failed. Especially once we factor in Apple's pricing. An overpriced gadget with no clear niche or purpose.



    Anyone?
  • Reply 6 of 118
    One way to get people to buy whole albums is to stop putting out 1 hit song + 9 tracks of crap.
  • Reply 7 of 118
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 1337_5L4Xx0R View Post


    I just don't see how Apple's tablet is going to succeed where all other tablets have failed. Especially once we factor in Apple's pricing. An overpriced gadget with no clear niche or purpose.



    Anyone?



    People said similar things about the iPhone before it was released. Don't forget, before the iPhone there was the Motorola Rokr.
  • Reply 8 of 118
    Geez, finally.



    The labels are such dinosaurs. Had they truly embraced the digital medium rather than treating purchasers like suspected criminals, they would have come up with this idea a long time ago. Many independent artists are doing inventive kinds of "bundles" to get people to purchase their music, and even older bands like Simple Minds--who have long since fallen out of favor in the US--can debut a new album in the UK top ten because they aggressively market themselves online and give fans a lot of free live tracks from time to time to pique their interest.



    It only makes sense that iTunes would offer such material. I think it's a step in the right direction. More choices are always a good thing.



    GTSC
  • Reply 9 of 118
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,697member
    I'm more concerned about this possible tablet.



    If they are using an ARM, it doesn't seem as though this will be very powerful, unless a dual core chip will be out by then. Will that do the trick? I hope so. Netbooks using the fastest Atom are pretty slow.
  • Reply 10 of 118
    jousterjouster Posts: 460member
    If you try to force us to buy albums, we'll just buy nothing.
  • Reply 11 of 118
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,697member
    That's strange, because for twenty years, everyone's been doing just that.
  • Reply 12 of 118
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    The "whole album" thing works well if you can make all the tracks flow together, each track can still be enjoyed on its own, but also has its flow when listened in order. There used to be albums like that, that idea seems to have fallen away for various reasons.



    I think maybe there's a bit of a change in culture too, lately, people don't seem to sit around listening to music in the way the article suggests. Away from concerts, music listening seems to be a private thing that might be discussed later. I know I don't just sit down and listen to music, haven't tried in a long time. I listen to stuff when I'm doing other things.
  • Reply 13 of 118
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    The Apple Cocktail project is for the Apple Tablet on September 2009, as "The Financial Times" reports. SO, THIS IS NOT A MERE RUMOR:



    "'It's going to be fabulous for watching movies,' said one entertainment executive."



    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0b7b66fa-7...44feabdc0.html



    WOW, WOW, WOW !!!
  • Reply 14 of 118
    Is anyone else beginning to feel that the mantra of "albums have 1 good song and 9 crappy songs" is getting old and tired?



    There are good albums that are released each week.
  • Reply 15 of 118
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Wil Maneker View Post


    Is anyone else beginning to feel that the mantra of "albums have 1 good song and 9 crappy songs" is getting old and tired?



    There are good albums that are released each week.



    Yes Wil, there are SOME albums where most/all of the songs are good.



    These are generally NOT the albums that the major labels push. The ones the labels push are the ones targeted at teens, where some teeniebopper has one, maybe two songs that the label pays to have played on the radio everywhere (the hit), and the rest of the album is schlock. The label really wants teens to buy all the songs on the album so they can recoup all the payola/advertising for that hit faster (and make way more profit).



    Older people still probably buy cd's (as a higher percentage vs online purchases, compared with say, sub-25 year olds), and are more used to getting all the songs of the album.



    The labels are looking at way fewer coke & hooker parties, and may have to settle for Porsches instead of Ferrari's if the teen population stays with just buying the hits, because the cost of selling that hit is much higher (per song) than if you can sell the hit + 9 songs for 10X the cost.
  • Reply 16 of 118
    macshackmacshack Posts: 103member
    Well I don't see this as a bad idea. Sure it is a tad late to realize that purchasing an album in physical matter is different than purchasing it in bytes. I don't think an app is the solution though. It is too bug sensitive and it will just dissapear among all the other apps users own. No Apple should build this into the shopping experience. Where you can page through an album booklet, watch a video or read some notes or background of some of the songs. The music industry has lost the ability to give their customers a magical feeling when buying an album. People have become more objective towards bands and artists. Also a lot of music now a days is so rubbish. I used to listen to rap and hip hop. Until I grew up (am 25 now). Now all I listen to is classical music and some bluegrass. Lyrics became childish (as far as they were not already), the whole culture became a joke (as far as it wasn't already). Music has become worse and icons do not equal good music. I don't care the guy or girl is famous. If their music stinks then I don't buy it. Let the fancy fake shallow artists find another job and let the genuine ones make good music.
  • Reply 17 of 118
    kent909kent909 Posts: 709member
    The record companies are so unwilling to let go of the past. They fought digital music for years and after losing millions for their efforts they finally came around. Now they are trying to tell us that the new business model does not allow them to make money. Total BS. A CD used to cost around $17, now you can but a digital album for $10 or a CD for the same cost. So if they are not making money on digital format then they have to be losing big money on a plastic CD. Something doesn't add up. The truth is probably they are making big money on digital and breaking even on CD's. Now they can't seem to break away from the meme of albums. The format no longer dictates the model. You could fit a certain amount of music on a vinyl album or a plastic CD so it made sense to fill it up. That no longer applies. Who says that we want albums? We download the music we like, one song at a time. It works. We create our own albums (playlists). We buy and pay for what we want. Now I am sure that some musicians might want to put together an album that shows a body of work, but it should be that, not just from the old concept of a group coming into the studio to record 15 songs. Sell the customer what they want, it's just that simple. For the most part gone are the days when an album has more than 10 songs that we want. Put 15 great songs on an album and charge $10 you know I will buy the album but only if I can delete the two songs that suck. It's basic math. If the album only has 6 songs that I like you are only going to get $6 out of my pocket. Bozo's all of them.
  • Reply 18 of 118
    eaieai Posts: 417member
    Surely integrating these 'applets' into iTunes would make more sense - having every album you buy cluttering your home screen would not be good.



    I think this could be very lucrative for apple - it'll increase the differentiation between them and their rivals (assuming it's done well) and further increase the label's dependence on Apple.



    As for the tablet, I think next year makes more sense - apple will want the best part of a year to fix all the 1.0 bugs (assuming it's more than just a new form-factor running Snow Leopard)...
  • Reply 19 of 118
    Long time lurker, but I had to register just to post on this thread.



    I think a lot of people are getting it completely back to front with the idea that albums are 'one great single and 9 tracks of filler'



    In my opinion the opposite is true; the 'big stupid obvious single' is usually overproduced mainstream fodder that's designed (normally on record label insistence) to have instant appeal and sell to the masses, but a few months down the line it's easy to recognise this. It may be the other songs on the album that are truly great; we might not notice them until we've heard them a few times, but will end up still listening to them in 20 years time. Yet if we hadn't been 'hooked' by the single we would never have bought the album and so would probably never have got to hear them.



    My worry is that if the album as a format disappears completely, these songs might not have the immediate appeal to sell in large numbers, and if they're not going to sell they will probably never get released.
  • Reply 20 of 118
    blah64blah64 Posts: 928member
    Welcome. Well said, and you're absolutely correct!



    Youngsters (and I mean 20-somethings on down!) may not have the long-term perspective to even understand this. Or at least not to have internalized such realizations because they've had the ability to just grab individual songs at will for several years now. There is such a Now, Now, Now mindset among kids these days, and it's unfortunate, but it's life.



    Sadly, I don't know if there's any way to go back. If one doesn't know the feeling of hearing songs that didn't appeal to you right away, but over time became your favorites (many times, over many years), then it seems unlikely that one would ever really understand the value of purchasing an entire album as opposed to one or two tracks.



    Certainly this does not happen with every album! So before someone starts spouting how they know what they like right away because of this case and that case, blah blah blah, just stuff it right now. It doesn't happen every time, but it does happen very often, and with most people.



    Remember, many musical artists write a great album's worth of material, then create one catchy song that will get played on the radio to sell the album. If that's the only song you buy, then you're really missing out on what the artists have to offer or say.



    All this said, I do not want to see sales restricted to album-only! I just wish people had a more thorough understanding of the psychology of music.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Lucifuge View Post


    Long time lurker, but I had to register just to post on this thread.



    I think a lot of people are getting it completely back to front with the idea that albums are 'one great single and 9 tracks of filler'



    In my opinion the opposite is true; the 'big stupid obvious single' is usually overproduced mainstream fodder that's designed (normally on record label insistence) to have instant appeal and sell to the masses, but a few months down the line it's easy to recognise this. It may be the other songs on the album that are truly great; we might not notice them until we've heard them a few times, but will end up still listening to them in 20 years time. Yet if we hadn't been 'hooked' by the single we would never have bought the album and so would probably never have got to hear them.



    My worry is that if the album as a format disappears completely, these songs might not have the immediate appeal to sell in large numbers, and if they're not going to sell they will probably never get released.



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