Print 28 comment(s) - last by retrospooty.. on Mar 10 at 11:33 PM

Sir Paul McCartney, seen here performing at a recent show, allegedly has given the go-ahead for the release of the Beatles catalog on iTunes  (Source: AFP/Getty Images)
Money still can't buy you love, but it might soon buy you Beatles songs on iTunes

Apple always has a knack for being involved somehow in a wild PR buzz about its latest product or initiatives.  This time, it's not something new like an ultra-thin computer or shrunken and restyled MP3 players, but rather something very old

For years, iTunes rested as a firm cornerstone of Apple's business.  It is a perennial leader in the online music market, being outsold last year only by the monolithic Wal-mart.  With iPods being far-and-away the most popular MP3 player and with the recent success of the iPhone smart phone, Apple is in a very good position in the online music industry.

One key element missing from iTune's crown jewels, though, has always been the Beatles catalog.  The Beatles, arguably the greatest recording artists of all time, have sold over a billion units -- a world record according to EMI and the Guinness Book of World Records

Thus it is understandable why there would be considerable enthusiasm over news reports that the Beatles catalog would soon be coming to iTunes, based on Sir Paul McCartney's go ahead.  The reports claim that McCartney pushed to make the catalog available "within months".  Apple Corps, the owners of the Beatles' legacy, and Apple, purveyor of iTunes, dismissed the claims as "rumour and speculation" and refused to comment.

There is a general consensus by analysts that the Beatles catalog will come online soon, though nobody really knows when it will happen.  EMI, who owns the Beatles' recording rights, has expressed eagerness to bring the catalog online.  It is currently in talks with online music retailers to set a firm release date.

The release is estimated to be worth up to £200m.  Beatles tracks are expected to occupy the top 20 spots on the UK chart when released, a historic first.

Apple Corp and Apple Computer have had a long history of legal battles over the tradename Apple, which has been seen as one reason that the catalog has been unavailable for so long.  Still, with the release of McCartney's catalog on iTunes, much of the hurt feelings were mended and the way was cleared for an eventual release. 

HMV Media's Gennaro Castaldo commented, "This move has been the Holy Grail of the music industry for a long time now and they will want to get the timing exactly right.  It will generate renewed interest and value in Beatles products, which are being re-mastered. Anything to do with the Beatles generates massive excitement and interest and this will be a key iconic moment."

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By Spivonious on 3/10/2008 10:21:52 AM , Rating: 3
I thought Michael Jackson owned the rights to the Beatles catalog. Is iTunes distribution rights something different?

RE: Catalog
By mdogs444 on 3/10/08, Rating: 0
RE: Catalog
By retrospooty on 3/10/2008 10:46:46 AM , Rating: 1
Obviously different people like different things, its all a matter of personal preference, but the beatles have sold more than anyone ever... They are easily the most popular musical act that has ever been. Most people love them.

RE: Catalog
By imaheadcase on 3/10/2008 10:35:59 PM , Rating: 2
Most people don't like them, most people in other countries like them, the US most dont care for them except the ones who grew up with them.

Personally to me they are terrible, its just bad music.

RE: Catalog
By retrospooty on 3/10/08, Rating: 0
RE: Catalog
By Neamhtearanntacht on 3/10/2008 10:35:10 AM , Rating: 2
My thoughts exactly, maybe digital rights are different, thinking of the writers strike.

RE: Catalog
By JackBurton on 3/10/2008 10:41:27 AM , Rating: 2
I believe McCartney bought the rights back on the cheap after Michael Jackson's massive financial loses.

RE: Catalog
By JackBurton on 3/10/2008 10:42:10 AM , Rating: 2
Correction: loses=losses

RE: Catalog
By Polynikes on 3/10/2008 10:55:48 AM , Rating: 2
It takes a special kind of person to blow billions.

RE: Catalog
By xsilver on 3/10/2008 11:09:28 AM , Rating: 5
and that wasnt the only thing he was blowing.

on topic though, who here is interested in 128k beatles tracks when they are already the highest selling band and their greatest hits cd can be bought at any thrift shop for a few dollars?

RE: Catalog
By walk2k on 3/10/2008 1:25:13 PM , Rating: 2
I'm guessing millions of teenagers who want to DL them for their mobile ring tones.

Otherwise yea I'd guess most Beatles fans already own all their albums on CD I know I do. Not that they are the highest fidelity in the world but 128k is so 1998. I rip everything at 320k now because.... why not when 500GB drives are under a hundred..

RE: Catalog
By ninjit on 3/10/2008 1:57:09 PM , Rating: 1
and that wasnt the only thing he was blowing.

Oh Snap!

RE: Catalog
By monkeymichel on 3/10/2008 4:12:00 PM , Rating: 2
absolutely incorrect. SONY-ATV & Michael Jackson still own the publishing. where do you get your information?

RE: Catalog
By Spivonious on 3/10/2008 11:18:23 AM , Rating: 3
Found the answer on CNET's article about this.

Publishing rights to many of The Beatles' songs belong to Sony/ATV, which acquired them in a deal with Michael Jackson. (In 1985, Jackson outbid former pal McCartney and Yoko Ono for the catalog.) However, Apple Corps owns the rights to the actual music/recordings to most of The Beatles' songs, which would be the determining factor in this reported deal.

RE: Catalog
By ninjit on 3/10/2008 2:00:29 PM , Rating: 2
Also, the rights Sony has are for traditional publishing media (CDs, LPs, MDs, even tapes, etc.).

So for MP3s and other such digital forms, Apple Corp is free to make distribution agreements with anyone else.

RE: Catalog
By monkeymichel on 3/10/2008 4:21:36 PM , Rating: 2
this is not true. The Beatles & Apple Corps Ltd. own the rights to the recordings in any format (CD, records, mp3, DVD, and so on). Sony & Michael Jackson strictly own the Lennon-McCartney song publishing only. They have absolutely no control of the Beatles recordings or performances. if someone wants to record a Lennon-McCartney song they have to go to Sony/Jackson. But Apple Corps Ltd. has complete control over any Beatles product, regardless if it's LP, CD, mp3, etc.

But the question is, iTunes or iTunes Plus?
By Staples on 3/10/2008 10:55:35 AM , Rating: 3
Last year at this time iTunes brought out their iTunes Plus program. iTunes Plus songs were DRM free 256mbps AAC songs. At the time, it was only EMI agreeing to participate in this program but Steve Jobs said that he expected 90% of iTunes catalog to be upgraded to iTunes Plus by the end of 07. As far as I can see, it is still only EMI participating as only 8 of my 200 tracks are iTunes Plus.

I have recently been buying the MP3s off Amazon as they seem to have many labels that offer their music in high quality DRM free mp3. I know very few tech people have ever bought a song off iTunes and that is why I believe that this topic is one I never read about because few people realize how few people know how little of iTunes is really DRM free.

By an0dize on 3/10/2008 11:22:08 AM , Rating: 1
Since when do apple users take facts into consideration?

RE: But the question is, iTunes or iTunes Plus?
By akugami on 3/10/2008 12:31:53 PM , Rating: 2
Keep in mind that Apple gets the shaft a bit when negotiating deals. The MPAA and especially RIAA are afraid of Apple's clout in the online sales category. They do not want Apple to be the Walmart of online media.

I've often seen a deal or pricepoint elsewhere first but eventually it'll show up on Apple.

Apple does want DRM free music eventually. For now, it is using the mistake of the *AA's to bolster it's hold on online media sales. It's the *AA's and not Apple that helped create what the iTunes store is today. Apple was just smart enough to capitalize on it.

RE: But the question is, iTunes or iTunes Plus?
By walk2k on 3/10/2008 1:30:50 PM , Rating: 2
"Apple does want DRM free music"

could of fooled me, it's pretty clear they want people to be locked into the ipod format.

By akugami on 3/10/2008 7:50:29 PM , Rating: 2
You DO realize that Apple has to get the permission of the publishers like Sony, Universal, etc to release non DRM tracks right? And you DO realize, at least as far as we know, that only one of the major publishers has given Apple that permission.

By raymondse on 3/10/2008 11:22:47 AM , Rating: 2
I really hope that if ever and wherever the Beatles' music goes online it'll be non-DRMed and with acceptable bitrates. These are the songs I grew up with and it would be a shame to have to buy an iPod just to get them.

By PrinceGaz on 3/10/2008 4:22:55 PM , Rating: 2
The Beatles catalogue has been available online without DRM for years ;)

Catalog rights
By DinCA on 3/10/2008 11:21:42 AM , Rating: 1
Don't confuse the rights of the song with the rights to the recordings. M Jackson at one time owned the rights to the songs, but now Sony owns it after MJ was forced to sell it because of his financial difficulties. Apple Corp has always owned the recordings and the Beatles have always had firm control over their recordings. When an artist records a Lennon-McCartney song, they pay Sony for the song which in turns pays a part to Lennon's estate and McCartney songwriter royalties. When a Beatles recording is used commercially, payment goes Apple Corp. for the recording and a portion in turn goes to Sony for the song. So McCartney gets royalties for being a songwriter and a recording artist.

RE: Catalog rights
By monkeymichel on 3/10/2008 4:10:44 PM , Rating: 2
you are correct about everything except Michael Jackson never sold his rights. MJ is still part owner of Lennon-McCartney publishing.

I'll Believe It When I See It
By kelmon on 3/10/2008 11:23:24 AM , Rating: 2
I think the title says it all. This story has been running and running. While I'd like to see The Beatles on iTunes I'd also like to see some of the other no-shows getting their act together, such as Metallica (outside the US), and AC/DC.

By sprockkets on 3/10/2008 5:06:22 PM , Rating: 2
When can I get the Beatles on reel to reel :) That format, albeit huge and bulky, was the best sound I have ever heard. Very warm and smooth, with none of the hiss associated with the tiny cassettes.

Is there is a generation wanting the Beatles on AAC? Sheesh, my Dad being in the record business still has the original records, and some singles.

I also think 80% of the people who buy Cadillacs have no idea what a "40 gig" is either.

This is still news?
By ToeCutter on 3/10/2008 11:19:36 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone who'd have cared about the Beatles on iTunes has already ripped the CDs or downloaded from P2P.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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