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Beatles and iTunes At Last? 246

rjshirts writes "Ars Technica is reporting that the Beatles and Apple have signed a reported $400 million dollar deal to bring the entire Beatles Catalog to iTunes. From the article: 'As of today there is no time frame as to when the catalog will appear online, but it seems to just be a matter of time. McCartney himself even said in November that the catalog would be making its way onto the the store some time in 2008. While we have heard this sort of thing time and time again, this might just be the real deal. Prepare yourself — Beatlemania is coming to iTunes.'"
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Beatles and iTunes At Last?

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  • While You're At It (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday March 10, 2008 @06:50PM (#22709380) Journal
    Uh, while you're at it, could you re-release their their Christmas Albums [wikipedia.org] on something that's not flexi-disc? You know, so I don't have to pay some bootlegger for a piece of crap copy [vendio.com]? I have one track from that legally off of the Free As A Bird [amazon.com] (track 04) single.

    Also, it's evident that you have hundreds of hours of takes by The Beatles in your vaults. I know it takes time to master them but doesn't greed and insane fans willing to pile money at your feet dictate that you should continue with the releases of music similar to the Anthologies? I mean, you could distribute this stuff on iTunes or (preferably) Amazon too without ever having to do the physical packaging and I would probably have to buy it.

    You seem to be greedy as all hell so I thought I'd throw that out there and hope you publish everything recorded by what is considered by many to be the greatest musical group to ever live.
  • by rs79 ( 71822 ) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Monday March 10, 2008 @06:51PM (#22709398) Homepage
    And I want these over the remeastered flacs I got off the net why exactly?

    It's not like I haven't paid for every Beatles song many times over at this point.
  • If you want to repurchase any of the Beatles catalog in a restrictive format that you can't do anything with, I suggest going with vinyl.
    Well, I know people that still listen to The Beatles on vinyl. Especially The Beatles. If you read on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

    The Beatles UK discography was released on CD in the late 1980s. However, the sound of the digital transfers of the current discs, produced by George Martin in 1987 and 1988 using the best equipment available during the early days of the format, no longer meet standards achievable using current techniques in Direct Stream Digital, HDCD, and others. The sound on the remastered catalogues of Bob Dylan, the Bee Gees, the Beach Boys, and the Rolling Stones, among other heavyweights from the 1960s, have been greatly enhanced using technological developments that have occurred since Martin's initial digital mastering, and as of 2007, similar work for the Beatles is long overdue. In addition, many Beatles enthusiasts feel that the CD releases of the albums are inferior because the recordings were originally mastered to be played on vinyl, which, when played back, arguably possess a warm sound which CDs are not able to reproduce. Many purists today still listen to Beatles albums only on vinyl.
    So while you may claim that records are an inferior format, there is still a reason to listen to them on vinyl. Sadly, I listened to Revolver a little too much and it does not play well, it is muffled and worn. I will honestly say that the remasterings of bands like The Who do sound different than the late 80's CDs that I also own. Unfortunately, I cannot say this for many of my Beatles CDs. They do actually sound different on CD than vinyl. I have grown used to it though.
  • by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:02PM (#22709524)
    ...and I'm damn proud of it. It's in 320kbit mp3 format, the quality is superb, idv3 tags are correct and the download speed was fast.

    What do you mean by "buying it"? Considering that copyright exists for being an incentive to creation and I see the creators are either dead or have no living standard problems, I see that no further payment is necessary. This is how the system is supposed to work, right?

    Also, I promise I didn't steal anything. That'd be an awfully wrong thing to do, to deprive someone of their hard earned property, not to mention someone might get hurt while someone is shoplifting a CD or breaking into the John Lennon archive...
  • The Beatles? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Itninja ( 937614 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:03PM (#22709544) Homepage
    I am not up to date on most current events, but didn't the Beatles cease to exist several decades ago? John and George are dead, Paul's memory is almost full, and I am pretty sure Ringo never actually existed. Maybe, when they say 'The Beatles made a deal' they really mean 'the people who own the rights to the Beatles music made a deal'.
  • by vidarh ( 309115 ) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:13PM (#22709664) Homepage Journal
    My guess is that this will sell iPOD's to a huge number of people that haven't bothered before. The actual sales of Beatles tracks may only be the tip of the iceberg in terms of increased revenue for Apple on this one.
  • Re:400 Million? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by halcyon1234 ( 834388 ) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:14PM (#22709666) Journal

    At $1/track they'd have to sell more than one track to every man, woman, and child in the US

    Not quite. The tracks will probably be a loss leader. The profit is going to come from two different places.

    1. The myriad of Beatles fans who will buy the albums, and then go on to buy a bunch of other "while I'm here I might as well" tracks.
    2. The business that they won't lose to a competitor. If Amazon signed an exclusive with the same people, then people who wanted Beatles would go there, and probably stay there. Apple is paying a premium to keep their customers on iTMS.
  • by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) * on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:14PM (#22709670)
    <blockquote>This is how the system is supposed to work, right?</blockquote>

    "The system" expects you to obey the law, not make it up as you go.
  • by psychodelicacy ( 1170611 ) <bstcbn@gmail.com> on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:24PM (#22709738)
    I think you're wrong, but I promise not to flame you!

    I became a Beatles fan in about 1993, aged 14. My parents weren't big fans, I just somehow got into them, and ended up with all their music, special edition and rare stuff, hundred of books, lots of memorabilia... and so on. While everyone around me was into Kylie Minogue and Take That, I loved the subversiveness of listening to a band who produced everything from crazy crappy pop (Love Me Do) to soulful ballads (This Boy) to psychedelic weirdness (Tomorrow Never Knows), via rock, comedy, ethnic fusion, electro-experimentation... I think that's the key thing about the Beatles. They never stayed in one place for long, so most people who like popular music of any sort like at least some of their stuff. And once you like some of it, it's difficult to resist listening to all of it, because they really are pretty damn good.

    This is why the Beatles keep being rediscovered by successive generations. It's rare for non-classical music to become classic, but they seem to have managed it.
  • Who Cares? (Score:-1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:34PM (#22709824)
    This is why there is no reason to care:
    1. iTunes is for computer illiterate idiots and self righteous assholes who pay for what should be free information.
    2. No Slashdotters are cool enough to do drugs, thus they don't listen to the beatles
    3. The Beatles suck.
  • by justinlindh ( 1016121 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:54PM (#22710076)
    The reason The Beatles are so popular is because their music (and beyond) have stood the test of time. They're regularly mentioned as influences by bands, and the impact they had on culture at the time was huge.

    Personally, I was born in '81 and didn't start listening to The Beatles until I was about 18. I almost immediately fell in love with the entire Beatles catalog (especially the later, less "poppy" stuff). Since then, I regularly listen to Beatles songs and include them in playlists. I'm not alone in being born outside of the Beatles era and still really enjoying the music. In fact, I'm probably in the majority. The Beatles are one of the only bands that I can play a song from in mixed crowd of mixed ages and have nobody complain.

    So, yeah, this is actually a huge deal for Apple (well, both 'Apples' in this case I guess). It ought to take them a while to recoup their initial investment in this, but I definitely foresee it happening as I consider the music truly timeless and appealing to most.
  • by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:56PM (#22710104)
    I won't flame you; but I would like to correct you.

    It's perspective. Recent music sells more because it's recent, but it will drop off, and in ten years nobody will buy it. The Beatles were huge, and even forty years removed, sells well... and will be selling well forty years from now. Ironically, If the Beatles weren't so valuble, they would have already been on I-Tunes. I have no doubt that Apple will make back that 400 million.

    It's a bit like the gravitational attraction from the sun, compared to the gravitational attraction from the asteroid that's 100 meters away. The asteroid may, briefly, subject you to more force... but get a million miles away from both, and one's still pulling at you.

    God, that's a strained analogy. Am I really going to submit this post?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2008 @08:00PM (#22710150)
    Hey junior, you know the generation from around the 60's to the 80's? Um, they pretty much INVENTED all the computer stuff you're using today.
  • by sneakyimp ( 1161443 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @08:41PM (#22710542)
    We musn't confuse gross revenues with AAPL's take. We also musn't ignore a couple of other things:
    1) there might be some kind of term limit for this deal
    2) I doubt AAPL keeps 100% of each download
    3) I seriously doubt AAPL will have 100% of the market share for beatles music
    4) Sir Paul and company have had very long careers and have made money from many other sources and have had plenty of time to invest their earnings in various investements.

    We simply cannot make a comparison of net worth to revenues for AAPL.
  • by Sentry21 ( 8183 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @08:57PM (#22710658) Journal
    Just for reference, the parent is citing the Canadian Copyright Act [cb-cda.gc.ca], section 80 [cb-cda.gc.ca], subsection 1:

    Copying for Private Use

    80. (1) Subject to subsection (2), the act of reproducing all or any substantial part of

    (a) a musical work embodied in a sound recording,

    (b) a performer's performance of a musical work embodied in a sound recording, or

    (c) a sound recording in which a musical work, or a performer's performance of a musical work, is embodied

    onto an audio recording medium for the private use of the person who makes the copy does not constitute an infringement of the copyright in the musical work, the performer's performance or the sound recording.
    Subsection 2 disclaims this privilege for renting, selling, or performing, as well as distribution. Thus, it is legal to make a copy of a friend's CD for your personal use, but not legal for your friend to make a copy of his CD for your personal use. Opinion has varied, but the general consensus (including that of the courts, IIRC) is that internet filesharing involves the recipient making the copy, which thus falls under subsection 1 but is not excluded by subsection 2.

    Note that this section of the act applies specifically to audio recordings, and specifically to 'an audio recording medium', but since audio can be recorded onto pretty much any digital medium, I doubt that that qualifier makes that much of a difference.
  • by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Monday March 10, 2008 @09:48PM (#22711026)
    "but I would expect society as a whole (being the other party to the copyright agreement), to negotiate a fair deal"

    Yeah, that's what they have. They agree to give us music and we agree to pay a dollar per song. It's fair because both parties agree to it. It would not be fair to say "no, you have to give me the music for free after you've made enough money", unless of course they agreed to it. Likewise it wound not be fair for them to say, "you have to give me a dollar". It's the fact that both sides agree to it that makes it fair. This is not rocket science.

    "I do not see who suggested otherwise."

    Saying that they have enough money, so they shouldn't make more is suggesting otherwise. Duh!

    "Do I think the "seller" of the music deserves a dollar in compensation? No, I don't."

    Then don't pay it. They're not forcing you to buy it at gunpoint.

    "The deal enforced by the government, so ultimately the people creates a monopoly on content for long decades"

    You could say that about any kind of property ownership. I don't see what it matters. I honestly don't see any reason copyright should ever expire (though in practice, it will basically expire once everyone who wants one has a copy, so there is a practical limit). Some people say that it should expire when the artist dies, but what it the artists wants to sell the future value of the work? They should be able to do that.
  • by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @10:11PM (#22711150)

    Yeah, that's what they have. They agree to give us music and we agree to pay a dollar per song. It's fair because both parties agree to it. It would not be fair to say "no, you have to give me the music for free after you've made enough money", unless of course they agreed to it. Likewise it wound not be fair for them to say, "you have to give me a dollar". It's the fact that both sides agree to it that makes it fair. This is not rocket science.
    "I will not shoot you unless you give me all your money" is a fair deal too, by this definition because both parties agree to it. Do not play wordgames with me please.

    Saying that they have enough money, so they shouldn't make more is suggesting otherwise. Duh!
    I didn't say they shouldn't make more - I said they have more than enough money and the deal from society's end has been fulfilled multiple times, so it is time the deed is fulfilled from the artist's side aswell. The deal is "the government grants you a monopoly on your work for limited times to promote the progress of science and useful arts". After the limited times is up, society receives it's compensation: the work lapses into the public domain.

    Then don't pay it. They're not forcing you to buy it at gunpoint.
    I didn't buy it, however I aquired it legally.

    You could say that about any kind of property ownership. I don't see what it matters. I honestly don't see any reason copyright should ever expire (though in practice, it will basically expire once everyone who wants one has a copy, so there is a practical limit). Some people say that it should expire when the artist dies, but what it the artists wants to sell the future value of the work? They should be able to do that.
    Copyright is not property, it is a license for a monopoly. In my opinion copyright should not exist or should expire within 5 years at the most, because only that allows society to create derivative works - which is important because all human progress is iterative - and a short copyright term would still allow the vast majority of profits to be made from a given copyrighted work. In case of abolished copyright people would just adapt to the changed economic conditions and continue to produce things as always.

    If copyright would never expire that would be theft - society held up it's end of the bargain, authors should too. Copyright is given to create an incentive for creating things that eventually fall into the public domain and can be built upon. Perpetual copyright goes against the whole thing. An artist selling "the future value" of the work would commit theft, as it would steal the opportunity from society to create derivative works, to build upon the work, to archive it for the interests of historical record or do whatever it wants with the copyrighted work without any kinds of permission from the author - the lease time period is up and the author should hand the work back to society where it came from.
  • by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @12:29AM (#22712148)
    I love the Beatles, but this is just madness. These are forty year old song recordings. If you want them, then just go to the library, check out the CDs, and copy them, for Christ's sake.

      And no my friends, you don't have to buy the White Album again. When you bought the album 40 years ago, you bought a lifetime license to listen to the music on that recording. It wasn't specifically written, and the so-called entertainment lawyers of the present will disagree, but nevertheless it is real and valid in any real-world sense. And the glorious Slashdaughters here live in the modern real world. Where entertainment lawyers don't really mean much.

        Again, I love the Beatles. I download their MIDI files, run them through notation software and study all the little guitar turnarounds and chord progressions in their most obscure recordings. I remix their old audio recordings using the latest digital phase-cancelling and audio mastering software. Yes, I love the Beatles...

        But these are forty year old recordings. They came out between 1962 and 1969. Believe me, when they did come out there was nobody under the age of thirty who gave a shit about any pop music recording from forty years previously (the 1920s).

        So, yes, I understand why anyone under the age of 30 would feel a little annoyed by all the attention that this band and their records continue to receive in the present day. But, grow up and be cool a little. The Beatles were great. But their classic popular music now, along with all the rest of the classic popular music recordings.

        If you don't like them, then just ignore them. And ignore the people who rant on about them.

        If you like them or are just ambivalent, then just copy the songs and let it just be one more CD on the stack in the closet.

          And for God's sake don't give Sir Paul or Yoko Ono or EMI any more money! Or you'll be subjected to Beatles revivals every few years for the rest of your lives!
  • Re:Bad joke. (Score:4, Insightful)

    I agree with Michael Stipe of REM, who referred to their music as "elevator music". Maybe it was ground breaking at the time, but it doesn't hold up.

    Elevator music? You clearly have not ever sat down and listened to the Beatles albums. Sure, they have some slower songs, but there isn't a rock style they didn't touch on or invent whole cloth. The Beatles pretty much invented heavy metal music. Listen to Helter Skelter (yeah, that's elevator music) or I Want You. I Feel Fine was the first song to use guitar distortion. Listen to the hard rock baseline on Hey Bulldog.

    Do yourself a favor and really listen to their albums. The breadth of different styles they did is astounding and unmatched by any other band.

  • by misanthrope101 ( 253915 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @02:31AM (#22712752)
    Calling Hey Jude and Get Back "elevator music" is a bit of a stretch. Our culture is so infused with their music that we don't notice it anymore. It's sort of like the extent to which western lit is infused with the KJV and Shakespeare. It's so present that we don't even notice it. I'm not saying that every song is a masterpiece, but stuff like "Happiness is a Warm Gun" is edgy even today.
  • Re:400 Million? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tingeber ( 1129619 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @07:29AM (#22713892)
    The point is that Apple *needs* the Beatles catalogue. It's a question of prestige, marketing power and looks. I guess a lot of people will buy the Beatles' songs, but many more people will go "hey, they've got Beatles in their catalogue now, which means they must be the best and I should choose them over [insert music download service here]". Of course, Apple Inc can and will market the hell out of it too.
  • by mooterSkooter ( 1132489 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @07:43AM (#22713996)
    The Beatles were brilliant and are brilliant. In fact they are the greatest pop band ever to have existed. Though They Might be Giants come a very close second.

    This isn't subjective this is FACT!
  • IMHO, George Martin, also known as the "5th Beatle" and his elite circle of musicologist friends, had a great deal to do with the sophistication of the Beatles best stuff... [etc]

    I think that's too uncharitable to the Beatles. I believe George Martin was an integral part of their success, but I think in the case of the Beatles, you can't separate the parts and conclude "this was what made them special." It was *all* the parts (yes, including Ringo!) that made the whole thing. Paul's gift for melody and baselines, John's harder edge, the contrast between Paul's intrinsic optimism and John's intrinsic pessimism, George's guitar chops and spirituality, and Ringo's general "niceness" formed a lot of the glue that held the thing together (along with his underrated drumming and rock-solid timing).

    It's not like George Martin only produced the Beatles. I believe he was an important part of things and his classical training added a lot. But it added a lot because the Beatles were geniuses enough to use the resource. For example, George didn't suggest the strings -- McCartney figured out the strings would work in Eleanor Rigby, from listening to Vivaldi. He composed the baseline and Martin arranged it.

    Also listen to Martin's compositions on Yellow Submarine. They're not bad, but they don't point to any "hidden genius" that was fueling the Beatles. Nor do we see any of the same Beatlesque experimentation in other George Martin-produced groups.

    The reason the solo efforts aren't as impressive as the Beatles is the same reason -- the magic depended on all of them together. Paul has admitted this many times. Imagine being Paul "freaking" McCartney (or Lennon) and wanting to experiment with stuff after the Beatles, but having no one around him who was equal enough to say, "Paul, that's utter crap. You can do better," as the other Beatles could.

    Having said that, I think the Beatles' greatest strength was, like the Tamla Motown stuff in the same era, the finger they had on the pulse of 60's Yuppie love...

    I agree with this, but I'd go further and say the Beatles' greatest strength was their willingness to experiment with all the various styles around them and synergize them into new things. A lot of artists, as you point out, came out of that era, but only one group utterly dominated.

    And just to add one last point, I think an underrated factor in the Beatles success was that they played together for years and perfected their craft. Many people think the Beatles just exploded onto the scene, but that's not what happened. They paid their dues in really harsh conditions, which is also one of the reasons they had such charm -- they had been mixing in comedy to their stage act for a long time. If you haven't read the Anthology book, I recommend it. There's a lot of back story to the Beatles and what made them.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll