Report: Apple, labels mixing musical 'Cocktail'

Record labels are working with the iTunes maker to concoct interactive bundles with material such as liner notes, lyrics, and photos, according to the Financial Times.

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Jon Skillings is an editorial director at CNET, where he's worked since 2000. A born browser of dictionaries, he honed his language skills as a US Army linguist (Polish and German) before diving into editing for tech publications -- including at PC Week and the IDG News Service -- back when the web was just getting under way, and even a little before. For CNET, he's written on topics from GPS, AI and 5G to James Bond, aircraft, astronauts, brass instruments and music streaming services.
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Jon Skillings
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Apple and the major record labels are teaming up to create bundles of interactive features to accompany music downloads, according to the Financial Times.

The project, code-named "Cocktail," has Apple collaborating with EMI, Sony Music, Warner Music, and Universal Music Group with an eye toward a September launch date, the U.K. newspaper said on its FT.com site early Monday, sourcing the information to unnamed people familiar with the situation. Apple is known for making iPod- and iTunes-related announcements at September events.

Under the purported plan, people going to Apple's iTunes store to download music would also be able to get an interactive bundle that includes material such as liner notes, lyric sheets, and photos, according to the Financial Times. The "interactive book" would let users play songs without having to return to the iTunes software, the story said.

The goal, apparently, is to spark sales of digital albums, with a nod to the music-listening habits of a bygone era. While Apple has long sold albums over iTunes, the online music store is renowned for the fervor with which customers download single tracks. Apple already makes album cover art available through the Cover Flow feature in iTunes.

"It's all about re-creating the heyday of the album when you would sit around with your friends looking at the artwork, while you listened to the music," said an executive cited by the Financial Times.

In 2008, according to industry tracker Nielsen, consumers bought over 1 billion digital tracks, compared with just 65 million digital albums. In both cases, the numbers were up significantly from the preceding year. All told, however, the number of albums sold in 2008--including CDs, LPs, and digital albums--fell 14 percent to 428 million.

The Financial Times article also touched on recent reports that have Apple working on a tablet device. The FT.com story says that such a device, possibly equipped with a 10-inch-diagonal touch screen, could be ready in time for the holiday shopping season.