Happy Hour? "Cocktail" Is All About The Benjamins

picture-32The existence of Apple’s new so-called “Cocktail” music experience being created with the major record labels seemed to create headlines last week more for the side-talk about the Apple tablet, than the music element itself. And for good reason, because just as we wrote last week, it’s starting to sound like this is mainly another ploy to pull more money out of consumers’ pockets.

And interestingly enough, it’s also starting to sound like the music industry may be taking a cue from the rise of mobile applications, to position this new format.

Reuters has a new report today about the Cocktail plan. After you wade through the usual PR speak from music execs about how this will change the digital music experience for consumers, you get to the real nugget of information:

Will the Cocktail format drive greater digital album sales? Probably not, but that’s not what the music industry is expecting from it. Instead, label sources position it as a way to further monetize existing digital album purchases. While pricing information isn’t available, Cocktail-formatted albums will almost certainly cost more than the standard album available on iTunes.

Is there something to be said for the missing experience of opening a record or CD for the first time, and checking out things like the artwork? Of course. But if the industry execs really cared about that, they’d come up with a standard to offer that without jacking up prices on consumers to give them a better experience.

Instead, they have likely come up with a way to charge more for content, while wrapping it in some new marketing. And while the execs and most outlets are mostly pushing the Apple angle specifically, the idea is to get these new types of digital albums to all the big digital music outlets, as Greg Sandoval reported last week.

But it’s smart to push Apple’s role in this because it sounds like it is doing things a little differently than what the music labels plan to do with the rest of the outlets. And it seems like a good bet that Apple’s version could offer a better experience than the others. The reason is that Apple’s digital content is so tightly integrated with its devices. So something like Cocktail on an iPhone or iPod touch could be a lot nicer than simply trying to run it on a computer or a less capable mobile media player.

And from what’s being said about all of this, it’s starting to sound like these Cocktails may actually be album apps of sorts, that you open and interact with while listening to the music. Again, Apple has already proven itself in the app game.

It will be interesting to see if this new format takes off in Apple’s ecosystem, but don’t be fooled into thinking that the prime motivation for this is anything but a way for the labels to make more money.