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Four of the world’s largest music Companies have confirmed that they are in talks with Apple to deliver a brand new content format that allows video, audio and images to be easily delivered to consumers over the Internat as opposed to being sold via a retail store.

EMI, Sony, Warner Music and Universal Music Group have said that the interactive package of photographs, video clips, lyric sheets, and other items will provide a better experience while also allowing them to lift the price of content sold over the Internet.

The proposed content format is also designed to work with a brand new Apple tablet device would make it easier for users to listen to music, view photos, and watch video as well as read books, newspapers and magazines.

 According to Businessweek, extra music content would be aimed at boosting sales of albums, currently sold via iTunes without many of the extras that typically accompany a CD or, in an earlier era, would have been found inside a record sleeve. That would be welcome news to the music industry, which has been buffeted by flagging album sales.

The move is also designed to bypass retail sales of content, via mass market retailers with music Companies keen to deliver content electronically in an effort to cut printing and pressing costs.  

Businessweek said that sales of albums in digital format have risen 19%, to 39 million, so far this year through July 5, from 33 million a year earlier, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Yet sales of albums in the CD format have tumbled to 141 million units this year, from almost 179 million a year earlier. “Selling more albums is certainly a bigger deal for the content providers,” says Shaw Wu, an analyst with Kaufman Bros. Equity Research. “One of the long-term trends they’ve been facing has been the shift to single tracks. [It] has been really tough on their average selling prices.”

Consumers have tended to prefer buying digital music one song at a time, and have bought 636.2 million of them so far this year, up from 563 million a year earlier.

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