The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

30 November 2006

And in the middle of negotiations

I figured that the bad blood, or juice, between Steve Jobs' Apple and the Beatles' Apple was a permanent state of affairs, at least since the introduction of the iTunes Store, which would seem, on the face of it, to violate a deal between the two in which basically Jobs was allowed to keep using the name so long as he stayed out of the music business. This spring, a judge ruled that the iTunes Store was a data-transmission service and therefore not in violation of the agreement; of course, that agreement, which was reached in 1991, never anticipated digital music downloads and such.

But apparently Jobs and Apple Corps rep Neil Aspinall have decided to let it be: Fortune says that an agreement to put Beatles material exclusively online at iTunes is on the way.

Costa Tsiokos has one concern:

I have a sinking feeling that, even if this comes off, part of the conditions will be to sell Beatles songs in the dreaded "album only" blocs that various rightsholders (notably for movie soundtracks) demand. So even if you want to pay only 99 cents just for "Taxman", you’ll have to pony up $9.99 (or more?) for the entire Revolver album.

I wouldn't be surprised if this turned out to be the case, though it won't give me any grief: with the notable exception of the modern-day mashup Love, I have just about everything the band ever released, and a fair number of things they didn't, so there's no particular reason for me to want to spend money for the third time (first there was vinyl, then there was Compact Disc) on these tracks.

(Rejected titles for this piece: "Got to get you into my 'Pod"; "Come together, right now, over $"; "The one after .99"; "Why don't we do it on the Net?")

Posted at 9:55 AM to Fileophile

It would seem that Itunes will have to carry that weight....a long time.

Posted by: paulsmos at 10:19 AM on 30 November 2006

Strictly by memory, I think I read rumblings in the mid-'80s about the relationship between Jobs-Apple and Beatles-Apple hitting turbulence. Something to do with the earliest spread of Mac software in music production and playback, and anticipation of where it would lead. I'm guessing the formal 1991 agreement, which supplanted whatever informal verbal agreement they had before that, was born from that.

A comment on the Slate forums suggests the same disinterest in Beatles exclusivity -- i.e., that anyone who would want the tracks already have them, so there's little market for the iTunes offering. Of course, that's a little like asking why anyone should continue to publish editions of Shakespeare, since anyone who wanted them already bought them up 200 years ago... Besides, plenty of extras can be added as incentives: Re-re-mastered tracks, digital album books, etc.

I also struggled with a lyrical-inspired headline, but bagged it when I couldn't get beyond some fixation of "I Am the Walrus"...

Posted by: CT at 11:25 AM on 30 November 2006

But apparently the negotiations didn't "breeeeaaaak doooowwwwwnnnn."

Posted by: McGehee at 1:21 PM on 30 November 2006

My favorite Beatles' tune is 'Here Comes the Sun':

'Little Darlin',
It's been a long, cold, lonely winter...'



Posted by: Mister Snitch! at 9:52 PM on 30 November 2006