Four of the major labels in music industry are teaming up to lock horns with Apple Computers, in a bid to achieve commercial success and resuscitate the industry. Sony Music, Universal, Warner, and EMI are working on a new format for music albums, called CMX, in an attempt to compete with the forthcoming Cocktail Project, to be launched soon by Apple. Files created in either of these formats will contain not only music, but also artwork, lyrics, videos, and liner notes, all within a single file. If either of these formats catches on in the market, one can expect to bid goodbye to popular formats prevalent now, including WAV, M4A, and yes, even MP3.
According to news published in the Times, CMX format developed by the 4 major labels was rejected by Apple straightway. Soon afterward, Apple started to work on an in-house alternative, monikered Cocktail. It is unclear how the two formats will differ according to functionality. The only difference will probably be in ownership of the formats.
A representative from one of the four labels told the Times, “Apple at first told us that they were not interested, but now they have decided to do their own, in case ours catches on. Ours will be a file that you click on, it opens and it would have a brand new look, with a launch page and all the different options. When you click on it you’re not just going to get the 10 tracks, you’re going to get the artwork, the video and mobile products.”
However, all this effort by the labels may go in vain, if the CMX format is not compatible with iTunes, which is still the default music software for iPhones, iPods, and Apple Macintosh Computers. Apple is more concerned with keeping sales of hardware up, while the labels undoubtedly have boosting sales of music albums as their target. Apple is rumored to be all set to launch a new tablet PC this fall, which will also ship pre-installed with iTunes.
The four labels plan to release CMX file (which is so far just a working title for the new format) in November. It will be “soft launched”, that is, released on an experimental basis, with just a few releases. An industry source commented, “We are not going out in force. What you are going to see are a couple of releases thrown out there to see what people like. We are working with the retailers now.”