Let it be available: the Beatles hit iTunes


SMALL PRINT:IT WAS a typical Apple tease: the company behind the Mac, iTunes and the iPhone ran an ad on its homepage saying: Tomorrow is just another day. That you’ll never forget. Below this cryptic message were four clocks. Fans of the Beatles were quick to point out that the minute and hour hands on the clocks corresponded with the hand positions band members modelled on the cover of their Helpalbum.

It was a clue to the fact that the music of the Beatles was to be available on iTunes. All the Beatles albums can be downloaded from €12.99, with individual tracks costing €1.29. Expect an unprecedented rush on the download retail store over the next few days. The resulting surge in sales will mean the band that broke up 40 years ago will be returning to the singles and albums charts.

Since its launch in 2003, iTunes has become the biggest music retailer in the world, though it has yet to make a profit. That is expected to change now.

With worldwide sales of one billion albums, the Beatles are the biggest-selling music group in history. In the past 10 years, they have sold 30 million albums alone. Without the Beatles on iTunes, there was a gaping hole in its offering.

The road to the announcement was long and winding however. When Steve Jobs, a major music fan, set up Apple in 1977, he named it after the Beatles’ record company. A few months later, George Harrison was flicking through an in-flight magazine and saw an advertisement for the new computer firm. The Beatles had registered the Apple name in the 1960s (it remains their holding company) and took Apple Computers to court.

An agreement was reached at the time that Apple Computers could retain the name if it confined itself to the computing world.

That changed when iTunes was set up. The court battles have been ongoing since and the band vowed their music would not go up on the iTunes site until they reached a satisfactory arrangement with Apple. Negotiations between the company and Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono (who are legally the Beatles) were fraught but the legal obstacles were cleared over the past two years, leading to the announcement.For many years following their 1970 split, the Beatles were content to sit on their legacy but, over the past five years, they have been more aggressive about marketing their work. There has been a Las Vegas stage revue, a series of album remasters and the Rock Bandvideo game.

Not having their work up on iTunes was always a bigger issue for Apple than for the band, who it is believed held out for a “special” deal that will see them receive a higher royalty rate than other bands.–