Apple finally brings Beatles to iTunes; does it matter?

Apple finally brings Beatles to iTunes; does it matter?

Summary: Apple on Tuesday finally announced that it would bring The Beatles to its popular digital music store iTunes.

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TOPICS: Hardware, Apple, Mobility
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Apple on Tuesday finally -- finally! -- announced that it would bring The Beatles to its popular digital music store iTunes.

The company made quite a big deal about it, leading up to the announcement with a message on its homepage, Apple.com, stating the following: "Tomorrow is just another day. That you'll never forget."

Specifically, iTunes will carry the following content, starting today:

  • 13 remastered studio albums ($12.99 for single albums; $19.99 for doubles)
  • The two-volume “Past Masters” compilation
  • The “Red” and “Blue” collections
  • A special, $149 digital “Beatles Box Set” featuring the “Live at the Washington Coliseum, 1964” concert film

Individual songs will cost $1.29 each.

The deal has been an elusive one for the company. Ever since Apple (Computer) tussled with The Beatles' record label Apple (Corps.) over its name -- then spent the better part of the last two decades in legal spats as the former encroached on the latter's industry -- it's been a difficult endeavor to get arguably the world's most popular recorded artist on digital store shelves.

There's no denying that it's a financial coup for both companies. Apple (Corps.) gets to place its marquee artist -- and all of its studio recordings, live performances, commercials and movies for which it owns rights -- in the world's largest media store.

Meanwhile, Apple (Computer) gets the world's biggest act, the product of one part political jujitsu, one part business interest and a healthy dose of nostalgia.

The question, of course, is the price. But we'll never know.

But the big takeaway here is whether it all matters. To be sure, having The Beatles accessible on a current medium -- "digital" -- is a big deal. No more copying MP3s from CDs or vinyl records, etc.

But does it matter? It's highly likely that if you're a Beatles fan, you've found a way to get the Fab Four's music on your iPod already. In fact, I'm almost sure of it.

So what does this deal bring, then? The following:

  • A chance to re-sell Beatles music to casual listeners who didn't bother to copy over music from an old medium;
  • A chance to bring the Beatles to a new generation of music consumers;
  • A major marketing coup and the ability of Apple to use Beatles music and video in commercials.

That last back-slapping one is important. In the press release alone were quotes from Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Jobs, Yoko Ono Lennon, Olivia Harrison and EMI Group CEO Roger Faxon -- quite a group.

Will this deal make a bunch of money? Absolutely. But it's unclear how much Beatles content has to move before Apple recoups its investment.

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Mobility

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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98 comments
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  • The Beatles on iTunes

    I think Apple's Beatles deal is much ado about nothing, but I'm not quite the target audience. What do you think, ZDNet readers: a big deal, a welcome addition or just overblown?
    andrew.nusca
    • Exactly

      @andrew.nusca Really, not many really care about the Beatles anymore. Maybe my grandma will finally have a reason to get an iPod....
      happyharry_z
      • RE: Apple finally brings Beatles to iTunes; does it matter?

        @happyharry_z , a lot of people love The Beatles - from all generations. Don't just stick to hip-hop & rap. There is a whole world of excellent and differing music out there. In my nieces grade school The Beatles are a big hit. Quoting from the movie Superbad when describing something great "it's like the first time you heard The Beatles"
        SMparky
      • RE: Apple finally brings Beatles to iTunes; does it matter?

        @happyharry_z

        That must be why Abbey Road, Sgt. Pepper, and the White Album are all in the top 10 album sales on iTunes this morning
        Monkeypox
    • This is a product with no audience

      iPod is for the hipsters, while Beatles music is for the geri's.

      Biggest disappointment since the last Apple PR flap a few months ago.
      Joe_Raby
      • RE: Apple finally brings Beatles to iTunes; does it matter?

        @Joe_Raby IPOD is a medium, Beatles are artists. I have the original Beatles recordings on vinyl (Japanese pressings are the best ones, fyi). We have had little kids come to visit, hear the music and comment "Hey, that's pretty good". There is a whole new audience waiting out there.
        coopejx@...
      • RE: Apple finally brings Beatles to iTunes; does it matter?

        @Joe_Raby The facts prove you wro... Aargh. Cannot say word indicating you may have erred in your judgment. Since after ONE DAY of sales three of the Beatles albums are in the TOP TEN iTunes best sellers chart.
        notme403@...
    • Target audience?

      Andrew do you think the Beatles' music would hold no appeal to your generation or the one to come? Their music changed the world in many ways and is also just really great music. I think you are the target audience.
      CowLauncher
    • I think they gave it the proper amount of fanfare.

      @andrew.nusca

      It's not worthy of a press conference, but it is kind of a big deal in that lots of people were waiting for the Beatles on iTunes.

      It is also the final round in the Apple Corps. vs. Apple Inc. battle that has been going on for decades.
      RationalGuy
    • RE: Apple finally brings Beatles to iTunes; does it matter?

      @andrew.nusca

      Frankly, I think Apple looks stupid making such a big fuss over having Beatles in their iTunes collection. I mean, sure they can celebrate a little but to make a bug fuss by changing their homepage to something that they expect we cannot wait but shit in our pants for...c'mon. I love Apple products and have only used Macs since 1989, but I don't care that Beatles is on iTunes and think that the public fuss Apple made over this is stupid.
      thibaulthalpern
    • RE: Apple finally brings Beatles to iTunes; does it matter?

      I am big Beatles fan. I am not a fan of how apple itune shows the music. The quality sucks.
      Better to just have the vinyl or cd and do it your self at a higher bit rate
      rparker009
    • RE: Apple finally brings Beatles to iTunes; does it matter?

      @andrew.nusca

      Yes really crap music
      slvr1969
    • RE: Apple finally brings Beatles to iTunes; does it matter?

      @andrew.nusca I agree Apple was WAY too pretentious about this whole deal.
      "Another day I'll never forget"? Pfft, PLEASE. It's not like these albums haven't been available in any music store for the past 40 years, and rippable as MP3s since the medium has existed... Come on, Apple. Now the only reason I'll remember this day is because of how obnoxious and snooty Apple was about the announcement.
      jmwells21
  • RE: Apple finally brings Beatles to iTunes; does it matter?

    Sorry Apple Computer and Apple Records... No matter how much you want us to think this is special... "It's just another day."
    TerryNorton
  • It may have been a big day for people like my

    Parents, and of course I could say, it is the Beatles, who cares, which of course would be absolute heresy to my Mother who was a fan. Which is why it was probably a big deal for Jobs.
    Snooki_smoosh_smoosh
  • RE: Apple finally brings Beatles to iTunes; does it matter?

    I know lots of college kids who love the Beatles. They are unlikely to ever be relegated to "has been" territory.
    Monkeypox
  • iYawn. (nt)

    nt
    Hallowed are the Ori
    • iSee what you did there!

      @Hallowed are the Ori

      Lol
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: Apple finally brings Beatles to iTunes; does it matter?

      @Hallowed are the Ori - Very creative - nicely done.
      ItsTheBottomLine
    • Be carefull

      Hallowed are the Ori, as Apple may attempt to sue you for "Copyright iNfringement".
      Tim Cook