Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Beatles Catalog Comes to iTunes

Posted By on Tue, Nov 16, 2010 at 7:56 AM



It's official. The Fab Four are now available through Apple—not the record label, the computer company. iTunes now carries all thirteen original studio albums from the British pop group, from "Please Please Me" to "Let it Be".

Alongside the launch, which went live a few minutes after 7:00 a.m. pacific time, were highlight reels from famous Beatles moments in history, as well as antique footage of a famous performance. Their live concert at the Washington Coliseum in 1964—the first of their scream-filled concerts as world-renowned artists—all forty glorious minutes.

Individual albums start at $12.99 (with "The White Album" running for $19.99), individual songs at the $1.29 per song rate, and the real kicker—the entire box set at $149. The songs are digitally remastered, CD-quality tracks, finally made available online.

The Beatles catalog has long been a holdout to admitting the future of music distribution. Rather, they've clung to CD distribution, a market that's been declining while digital copies and iPods have sold like hot cakes.

Who won on this deal? Certainly, Apple Records and the Beatles' family and remaining members will profit, but Apple holds the real power here. They set their terms on distribution years ago, and have since waited for the Beatles catalog to come to the party. Now, the iTunes marketplace surely won't have a monopoly on the content, but this move to digital distribution—and the lack of control by record companies—shows just how much things have changed.

The LP-production model of the last 50 years isn't going to cut it anymore. The entire industry is moving away from physical media—for better or for worse. While the record industry's response to illegal downloading has been litigation, the tech companies, with Apple at the forefront, have found ways to distribute the content. And that's gotta sting for the companies that use to dominate music.



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