Apple’s It’s Only Rock and Roll Event: The Beatles? The Stones? Or…? | iLounge Backstage


Apple’s It’s Only Rock and Roll Event: The Beatles? The Stones? Or…?

Though Apple has kept mostly tight-lipped on the subject, “Beatles on iTunes” rumors have been circulating for years, and there have been numerous hints that it was actually going to happen. Back in 2007, Apple and The Beatles’ company Apple Corps settled their long-running legal issues, soon after which Paul McCartney appeared in an iTunes commercial, and then stated that digital distribution of the catalog (read: iTunes) looked likely to happen in 2008. Later, a posthumous John Lennon release (Lennon Legend) became a surprise third replacement for the album art featured on iPod touch boxes. After all that? Silence.

At least, on the topic of iTunes. Fans of the band know that some very significant Beatles-related events took place in 2009: first was the announcement that the band’s remastered albums were ready for a CD release on September 9, 2009—“number 9, number 9, number 9,” as the ugh-worthy song Revolution 9 puts it—which many began to take as a highly likely prelude to digital distribution. Then, there was the formal debut of the video game The Beatles: Rock Band—during Microsoft’s E3 2009 press conference with McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, and Olivia Harrison in attendance. Between the newly enhanced music, the rock royalty on stage, and the demonstrations of the amazing graphical work done by developer Harmonix, The Beatles could hardly have had a bigger debut for their title; it was the sort of grins-everywhere press event that everyone had pictured Apple holding, rather than Microsoft.


The old Beatles/iTunes rumors started swirling again a few weeks ago when the unofficial media countdown began for the now traditional “new iPods” event. Apple was mulling the 8th or the 9th, said the reports; it was readying iTunes 9, they claimed; Apple and Beatles fan Steve Jobs would never miss out on the significance of the date as an opportunity to announce The Beatles coming to iTunes… right? But if Apple waited until the 9th, wouldn’t it miss out on download sales from all of the people who had pre-ordered the remastered CDs? Might it be seen as stepping on the band’s toes by holding its own event, effectively counter-programming what might otherwise be a day of Beatles news dominating the airwaves? Then the invitations went out, taking the 9th while specifically referencing a Rolling Stones lyric. Wait a second, weren’t the Stones rivals of The Beatles?


Not really. As with all of the media hubbub that’s surrounded The Beatles and the iTunes Store up until now, that’s much ado about nothing. It’s fairly obvious at this point that The Beatles were waiting for these remasters to be finished before they got into the digital downloading business, lest they suffer additional curses from fans who bought the older versions of albums in 2007 or 2008 only to find them replaced a year or two later. And on the 9th, our impression is that all of the other lingering questions regarding The Beatles on iTunes will most likely be resolved. For instance, it’s not counter-programming if the event serves to accentuate The Beatles’ announcement—with a “guess how else you can get the new albums” pitch—rather than to take away from it. It could easily be elevated further with an announcement of The Beatles: Rock Band for the iPhone and iPod touch. Or a Beatles iPod, pre-loaded with the band’s music; the only thing holding Apple back from doing this was its earlier agreement with Apple Corps, which has been replaced.


Of course, none of this could happen, too. Perhaps all we’ll see is iTunes 9, modestly refreshed iPods, and a performance by the Stones… or maybe Randy Newman, again. But that just doesn’t seem likely—a Stones lyric in the invite seems like a red herring to preserve the element of surprise. Since we’ll be in San Francisco for the event at the time our remastered stereo Beatles box set is scheduled to arrive, the big question on our minds is whether we’ll actually be opening it when we return home. Perhaps Apple found a way to offer something even better than the set, such as a package with all of the band’s new tracks, stereo and mono, or an even more massive one with the prior and obscure versions of the tracks as well. Or perhaps not. We’ll just have to see.


What do you think will happen? If you’re a fan of the band, do you care? Let us know in the comments below.

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Who cares if The Beatles come to iTunes or not.
99% of the music on my iPhone/nano was purchased for less $$ from my local music shop than what I could get it on itunes for.
AND I have an original CD backup.

Why would anyone waste money on itunes music?!

Posted by Phil on September 1, 2009 at 6:18 AM (CDT)


It’s a fact: CDs, with their lossless audio and built-in backup discs are cheaper than digital downloads.  They also have resale value, and will sometimes increase in value.
As far as The Beatles go, no self-respecting music fan will not purchase the Stereo Box Set at a minimum.  The Mono Box Set is for completists, and has been sold out for several weeks.

Posted by Galley in Greenville, SC on September 1, 2009 at 8:57 AM (CDT)


all I see is a graphic focusing on ipod touches (with the bottom-loaded earphone jack).  That says to me that it’s mostly about the new and awesomer touch.

Phil/Galley…thanks, mmmkay? Obviously many people DON’T consider it a waste, or they would not have purchased tracks.  Check the arrogance: it’s simply different preferences for different individuals.  If it doesn’t work for you, cool, but you’re simply placing value on different things.  With my 700 square foot apartment, for example, I don’t really want to dedicate space for cd ‘backups’ anymore, and would rather have my backup as 1) my time machine backup of itunes library, and 2) a carbonite offsite online storage backup.  Both of these DRASTICALLY reduce the time I would need to replace any broken/stolen/lost/drowned music library. All of my cd’s are on a huge shelf in my house in Orlando, because all bookshelf space is dedicated to, you know, BOOKS here at my place in DC.

I was not so keen on previous iTunes releases, but now that I can get 256kbps quality, I’m happy.  Of course, I’d prefer some good V2 (at least) lame-encoded VBR tracks, to have lower file sizes and higher quality only where needed, but the convenience factor is great for me.

As far as discs being cheaper at B&M stores: I bought the recently released Matisyahu album on iTunes for ~$13. I looked in Barnes and Noble yesterday, and lo and behold, it was $13 there, too!  Ah, but wait…it was $13 for the standard disc, while I got the extended special release disc with about 5 more tracks.

Jackpot for me.

Posted by OnlyShawn on September 1, 2009 at 1:52 PM (CDT)


who cares about some boy band from the 60’s?
Bring on the new ipod touches!!!!
so we can put some more real Rock and Roll on them. Like the Stones!

Posted by MIKEyB on September 2, 2009 at 12:19 AM (CDT)


I have owned the Beatles on vinyl, cassette, and CD. The vinyl is in the basement; the cassettes have disappeared, and the CDs have all been converted into my iTunes library. I have paid many times over for increasing quality of sound, but I don’t plan on buying them yet again.

The benefits of storing the CD back are well-noted, but you can do that with iTunes copies if you really want to. I back up all of my tunes, photos and movies onto two different external drives. I feel comfortably safe. In case of a fire, all I have to do is grab the hard drive and run. It would be hard for me to carry 1200 LPs and 2000 CDs and run screaming for help down the street.

Posted by Steve on September 2, 2009 at 3:41 PM (CDT)


FWIW, I just got an email from Borders heralding the release of the remastered Beatles catalog and the ad clearly says “only on CD”. Hmmm…

Posted by ScooterD35 on September 3, 2009 at 12:04 PM (CDT)


I’m stoked that the Beatles catalog is about to be re-released in putatively better quality. If they used the same care and attention as the LOVE project received, they will be sweet to fans of the band. It will be nice to get away from my current Frankenstein amalgamation of retail CD sourced tracks mixed in with myriad bootleg sources for optimal sound quality. Hopefully, these will be definitive.

On the other hand, I care very little if the albums come to the iTunes store. I’ve made my feelings about the iTunes store’s quality and prices clear many times over so I won’t repeat my rants here. I’ll just add that the “CD” backup argument extends beyond the actual CD to the audio itself. Starting from a lossless source, one can encode to any file format and any quality one wants without generating the sort of encoding artifacts that accumulate through each generation of lossy transcoding. It may be standing on a principle that makes little audible difference in the world, but I will not budge from my belief that we should not be asked to pay CD prices for non-CD quality audio sources.

In a fire, the first thing I’m grabbing after the family is out is my two office boxes of DVD backups of the lossless audio - not as convenient as a Steve’s single hard drive, but it’s much less room than the actual CDs take. I agree you can’t run down the street too well with 2000 CDs, but you can run pretty easily with a couple of hundred DVDs in slimline cases that represent the full quality of those 2000 CDs :D

Other than bands I’m really hard core about (and while I love the Beatles, I would not say I’m hard core about them), I don’t need the physical CD, but I sure as heck need better than a one-size fits all lossy file at the same or higher prices than I get a physical product for.

Never mind the reality that anyone who wants the entire remastered Beatles catalog in lossless quality will be able to download it for free if they are so inclined well before we learn whether it will or will not appear in the iTunes store at the Sept 09 event.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on September 3, 2009 at 12:09 PM (CDT)


It’s obviously a big deal to Apple to get the Beatles on iTunes. Why else would they hold a music event that paraphrases a Rolling Stones lyric on 09.09.09—the day being marketed as the second coming of The Beatles? Is it sour grapes about not having a deal with Apple Corps yet, Apple?

I’ll be able to buy Abbey Road for Beatles Rock Band month but still not be able to buy it on iTunes? That’s just crazy.

Posted by Nancy on September 3, 2009 at 1:07 PM (CDT)


haha, yeah! More iPod Touch! Its interesting how many people were expecting a camera and were upset that there was none. Although interestingly, if you can fit a camera and a mic into a little tiny nano, there’s no reason it can’t fit in the Touch. So the question begs to be answered, why no camera?

I love it so much I started a podcast about them. Can you rate it and tell me what you think?

Just search for iPod Grrl in iTunes.

iPod Grrl

Posted by iPod Grrl on September 10, 2009 at 3:19 AM (CDT)

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