As announced Saturday, the Big Four music labels -- Sony, EMI, Warner and Universal -- are all planning a new technology that will allow an album sleeve to be included in digital downloads of their music. The technology (which attempts to rival Apple's similar plans) has been named "CMX" and is most easily described as a digital album sleeve. Due in November, CMX will include the normal accouterments included in an album sleeve -- artwork, lyrics, thank yous -- as well as having extra videos and downloadable content. Will CMX amp up digital music download numbers? That is yet to be seen, but it seems like CMX will have a positive effect.
Apple was approached by the record labels to adapt this technology, but ultimately decline any offer. It is now understood that Apple is putting together their own similar service -- named Cocktail -- to launch in the next 2 months. That admission hardly surprises me, seeing as how Apple doesn't care to play by anyone's rules but their own. They have a right to call their own shots, but consumers are also entitled to some variety in their digital music downloads, and thus we have CMX.
According to reports, CMX will be "soft-launched" to be initially included on only a few releases, with the hopes of being a part of U2's next album. 2009 reports put only 10.3 of the 139.8 million albums sold last year as being digital, so any progress CMX may show in early reports will be very much welcomed.
CMX isn't being introduced to save digital music downloads from their declining numbers, but introducing something like this -- something tangible and visual -- for music downloads can only be a good thing, until they start charging more for the extra content. Consumers will bitch and moan that this doesn't replace the actual CD itself, and many reserve the right to do so. Some people still very much enjoy collecting physical CDs and all the clutter that comes with them. CMX, in the end, is a smart move -- one that was long overdue in this society that downloads their music. Hopes, including mine, are high that it will work, but time will tell how CMX will ultimately be received.