The Album Is Dead and Your Stupid CMX Format Won't Bring It Back, Record Labels

The major labels' plan to revive the album with a new format called CMX that includes cover art, lyrics and videos would only be half as stupid if Apple wasn't beating them to the punch with their own stupid album.

Apparently, the record labels—that would be Universal, Warner, EMI and Sony—actually went to Apple with the CMX digital album format idea a year and a half ago, and Apple said shno. As Apple is wont to do after expressing a total disinterest in an idea, they promptly went to work on their own version, which rumor has it, is called Cocktail, which we'll see in September at the annual iPod event. The records labels' format won't hit until November.

This CMX deal sounds like a glorified version of the tragically awful Flash programs that shipped on some CDs back a few years ago, actually: It "opens and it would have a totally brand-new look, with a launch page and all the different options." Yeah, gross. U2 will be soft-launching it. Grosser.

Oh yeah, did I mention the records labels are going up against Apple, the biggest seller of music in the country on their home turf? It's not the first time Apple's tense relationship with the music industry has resulted in digital fisticuffs, but we all know the eventual result of the last war: Apple pretty much got what it wanted—completely DRM-free music—yielding the relatively minor concession of flexible pricing. The labels are doomed in this fight.

We're all probably better for it, anyway, since I have the feeling the record labels' album product will be markedly inferior compared to Apple's. Which won't be great either, since the whole digital album thing just seems silly, like trying to put a genie back in a bottle after the genie ate a whole pig with deep-fried ribs and a mountain of custard and washed it down with 14 gallons of beer. Some shit just doesn't work like that. Even Radiohead's given up on the album. [Times Online via Guardian via BBG]