iTunes, Record Labels Aim to Jump Start Album Sales

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Apple and the four major record labels are reportedly in talks to figure out ways to entice more consumers to purchase full-length albums, the Financial Times reports. Codenamed "Cocktail," their plan calls for the introduction of an interactive liner-notes booklet to accompany full-album purchases. The booklet would include lyrics, photos, videos and the ability to play music on computers without using iTunes, according to sources close to the talks. Apple reportedly hopes to launch the new project in September. When contacted by Rolling Stone this morning, a spokesperson for Apple said the company was declining comment on the report.

While digital music sales remain strong and CD sales plummet, the majority of consumers still choose to purchase their music a la carte, or by the song instead of the full album. "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," a source close to the talks told FT.com. Apple recently tried to boost album sales by introducing variable pricing, which raised the cost of hit singles while lowering that of catalog albums. Reps from the four major labels declined to comment on "Cocktail."

In addition to boosting album sales, the new liner notes and interactive booklet are part of a bigger project Apple has planned, according to the Financial Times, who report that Apple has a "tablet-sized" touch-screen computer in the works that could be released in time for the holiday season. The new computer, which will be about 10 inches diagonally, will also have Internet capability, allowing users to connect to the iTunes store in order to purchase music and movies. The computer is also being dubbed Apple's response to Amazon's popular Kindle, and FT writes that Apple is reportedly in talks with the major publishers.

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