updated 08:25 am EDT, Tue August 11, 2009
CMX Album Music Format
Major music labels are developing their own whole-album music file format after being rebuffed by Apple, a source for a UK newspaper says. Created by EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner, a file format known as CMX would contain both the songs as well as liner notes, attached videos and mobile content. Much like a DVD, it would have its own "launch page" that appears after launching a given file.
The format is tentatively set to launch in November but would have a low-key release without a high profile and with only a small number of titles. It's unknown whether these would cost significantly more than existing downloads. Importantly, however, a tipster paints Apple as attempting to outmaneuver CMX through its rumored Cocktail format for whole albums. It's not clear what differences if any there would be in practice, and the format may be a contingency to prevent a rival format from diminishing iTunes.
"Apple at first told us that they were not interested, but now they have decided to do their own, in case ours catches on," the unnamed label representative claims.
While unconfirmed, a reactionary approach would fit into Apple's business model. Labels have been the primary advocates for moving back to old, more lucrative complete album sales and away from individual songs, and have used tactics such as variable song pricing both to make more profit from singles as well as to upsell customers to full titles. Apple meanwhile has long stated publicly that it sees the iTunes Store as a means of driving iPhone and iPod sales, and therefore benefits most from lowering the price of entry for the songs themselves.
Without support by the market leader, CMX isn't expected to gain much traction as it will be limited to far smaller music stores and to non-Apple players that in the US have to fight for the less than 30 percent of the device business not controlled by iPods.