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Can iTunes save the LP album?
Apple’s online music store helped sink the CD—can its “Cocktail” project revive the record?
 

Apple’s iTunes store helped destroy the CD, said Chris Foresman in Ars Technica, and now, with the four major record labels, Apple’s trying to "resurrect” the CD’s storied predecessor, the LP album. According to the Financial Times, Apple’s “Cocktail” project will offer a package of bonus materials—such as interactive liner notes, extra tracks, and photos—if you buy an entire album. The idea is to re-create the experience of “the album’s heyday.”

The idea is to swap the “scrawny margins” of 99-cent downloads for the “fat profits” of albums, said Greg Sandoval in CNET News. And the major labels are so hot to revive album-era profits, they’re also pushing their own interactive “next-generation” albums through iTunes rivals like Amazon. The album revival might even work, if they stop trying to get us to plop down $15 for two good songs and 10 filler tracks.

The industry’s problem is that “music fans have reverted to the buying habits of their grandparents,” said Damian Joseph in BusinessWeek, purchasing singles—modern-day vinyl 45s—over LPs or even CDs. But my problem is that while 45s, LPs, and CDs all contain full-quality recordings, iTunes and its competitors only sell “awful-sounding” compressed MP3s. If Apple wants my money, it should focus on providing quality recordings.

Really? I think liner notes, lyrics, and full album art will be a “welcome flashback,” said Jason O’Grady in ZDNet. It’s one of the reasons I still buy “180 gram vinyl” albums. So as long as it’s DRM-free, Apple’s “Cocktail” album revival “sounds great to me.”

 

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