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Beatles to iTunes?

Frank Ahrens

There's an intriguing announcement this evening out of EMI, one of the Big Four music companies and, more importantly, home of the Beatles catalog.

At 8 a.m. Monday, EDT, EMI and Apple Inc. topper Steve Jobs will reveal an "exciting digital offering" at EMI's London headquarters.

Could the Beatles finally be coming to iTunes? Beatles fans are no doubt hoping: Let it be.

EMI spokesfolk are being close-mouthed about the announcement, unwilling even to give "guidance," an on-background term for steering reporters one way or the other. This most likely is because Jobs is involved. He loves him some curtain-raising spectacle and it's easier to get leaks out of the White House than Cupertino.

But let's play connect-the-dots: One of the biggest, most conspicuous holes in all online music stores -- not just iTunes -- is the Beatles. No one has been able to get the living Beatles (Sir Paul and Ringo) and the descendants of the dead Beatles (Lennon and Harrison) to agree on a compensation package for digital sale.

Consequently, online music services have been missing arguably the most important rock band ever and one that certainly is still a commercial success. Not to mention a personal fave of Jobs'.

There has been some legal bad blood between Apple and the Beatles, going back even to the 1978 launch of Apple Computers. See, Apple was the name of the Beatles label, and they jealously guard the name. The Beatles's Apple sued Jobs's Apple in 2003 over the launch of iTunes because of the link between Apple and music.

However, the two Apples recently settled their legal disputes, possibly clearing the way for the Beatles to jump to iTunes.

There is one piece of the announcement that raises doubt as to whether it will be about the Beatles: there is promised a "special live performance." Well, that could mean Sir Paul and Ringo. Or Sir Paul and Ringo singing along to a recording of Lennon's voice and Harrison's guitar.

Or it could be a live performance by some other EMI band that Jobs is rolling out on iTunes. In which case, the press corps summoned to EMI HQ in London is likely act like the title of the Beatles hit song: "Hello Goodbye."

By Frank Ahrens  |  April 1, 2007; 9:04 PM ET  | Category:  Frank Ahrens
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

"One of the biggest, most conspicuous holes in all online music stores -- not just iTunes -- is the Beatles."

This is an incorrect statement.

Much of The Beatles' catalog has been available for years on and with higher quality encoding than iTunes provides.

Posted by: Gary | April 1, 2007 10:03 PM

Title says it all

Posted by: Gary's An Idiot | April 1, 2007 10:16 PM

you're thinking that the fact that the beatles are on allofMP3 proves them wrong that the beatles aren't available on online stores? allofMP3 is (or was) a thinly veiled pirate site. I'm sure the beatles have been available on dozens of pirate sites and tools. the writer meant legally-- i.e. where the music's owner would be actually selling their music, not just some russian hacker.

Posted by: right... allofMP3 | April 1, 2007 10:35 PM

'Cause, you know, who cares if the Beatles actually agreed to putting any music on a site whose existence rests on lax Russian copyright loopholes. If you're going to buy from them, you might as well cut out the middleman and steal the music off a file-sharing network.

Posted by: Honestly now | April 1, 2007 10:41 PM

It's about time! How about an official "Let it Be" DVD too? I can only find used DHS's.

The Beatles were always so progressive when making music, so why are they so behind with modern technology? Apple Corps website at is just a single placeholder page--

Posted by: Mike | April 1, 2007 10:43 PM

Nice try, Frank - but I can read a calendar!

Posted by: Tyler | April 1, 2007 10:59 PM

cant quite believe it myself. das beatles finally available on itunes? could it be true? i sincerely hope not or this indeed would prove that the beatles have sold out

power to the people (or ringo anyway)

Posted by: formidable lennon action | April 2, 2007 2:12 AM

they are just too expensive,but fine product

Posted by: shane0305016 | April 4, 2007 1:12 AM

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