Saturday, August 08, 2009

Unwanted formats: CMX, anybody?

Given the way new formats have been launched and failed like flying ants emerging into the daylight inside an aviary, you'd have thought that anyone at a record company meeting who suggested launching yet another mystifyingly-named, undemanded format would find themselves shoving their office gonks and mugs into a binliner rather than being given a budget and small team.

Not so, though, as the majors have cooked up a new, exciting, new, exciting, new, exciting format that will - they believe - stop the decline of album sales:

Sony, Warner, Universal and EMI are putting the finishing touches to an album format that will give music fans a computerised version of the sleeve notes that come as standard with a CD, including lyrics and artwork, and videos.

They're calling it CMX. Perhaps to persuade confused grandparents to buy one when the little 'uns have asked for a BMX. Or perhaps because they're hoping it'll be as successful as the MSX computers were back in the 80s.
One senior record label insider said: “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 totally 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 ten tracks, you’re going to get the artwork, the video and mobile products.”

Thank god for that - I would have hated it if it didn't have mobile products.

Is it just me, or does that "senior record label insider" sound like he or she has been to a couple of meetings where someone's stood up and run through a Powerpoint, and everybody has come away really excited but nobody quite understands what it is. "There's this thing with a brand new look and all the different options"? That could be anything, couldn't it?

The main weakness - beside the utter pointlessness of the idea - is that people aren't buying albums online because they can get the tracks they want without having to buy tracks they don't like. It's like the major labels have seen people getting upset at finding flaming brown paper bags of shit left on their doorstep, and decided that people might enjoy it a bit more if, before it was set alight, the shit was put into a gift bag with a ribbon on it.

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