The Beatles catalog now available on iTunes

The Beatles catalog now available on iTunes 2

As expected, Apple today announced the immediate availability of The Beatles’ entire back catalog on the iTunes Store. All of the Fab Four’s remastered albums are available for purchase individually in iTunes LP format, priced at $12.99 for standard length albums and $19.99 for double-length offerings; also available is the The Beatles Box Set ($149), which contains remastered versions of all the band’s studio albums in iTunes LP format, as well Past Masters Vols. 1 & 2, a series of Mini Documentaries, and a film of the band’s performance at the Washington Coliseum from 1964, a worldwide iTunes exclusive which captures the Beatles’ very first US concert in its entirety. Notably, the concert film will be available for fans to stream and view from iTunes for free for the remainder of this calendar year. All of the band’s singles are offered for $1.29 a song. In conjunction with the release, Apple will be running a series of five TV advertisements, featuring clips of the band’s arrival in America, and the songs “All You Need Is Love,” “Let It Be,” “Yesterday,” and “Here Comes The Sun,” respectively, all of which are available for viewing on the band’s iTunes landing page.
“We’re really excited to bring the Beatles’ music to iTunes,” said Sir Paul McCartney. “It’s fantastic to see the songs we originally released on vinyl receive as much love in the digital world as they did the first time around.”

“I am particularly glad to no longer be asked when the Beatles are coming to iTunes,” said Ringo Starr. “At last, if you want it—you can get it now—The Beatles from Liverpool to now! Peace and Love, Ringo.”

“We love the Beatles and are honored and thrilled to welcome them to iTunes,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “It has been a long and winding road to get here. Thanks to the Beatles and EMI, we are now realizing a dream we’ve had since we launched iTunes ten years ago.”

“In the joyful spirit of Give Peace A Chance, I think it is so appropriate that we are doing this on John’s 70th birthday year,” said Yoko Ono Lennon.

“The Beatles on iTunes—Bravo!” said Olivia Harrison.

“The Beatles and iTunes have both been true innovators in their fields,” said EMI Group CEO Roger Faxon. “It’s a privilege for everybody at EMI to work with Steve Jobs and with Apple Corps’ Jeff Jones and their teams in marking a great milestone in the development of digital music.”

22 thoughts on “The Beatles catalog now available on iTunes”

  1. Mystery & promotion like only Apple does. Single dowloads will gain play time, and with new younger listeners.

    The best of their songs are still great. Much of their music is questionable (aka most of the White Album). Being on iTunes doesn’t do much for me, but it adds to the musical world and keeps iTunes out front as a musical distribution tour d’ force.

  2. Well, to be fair, I will now remember this day for a while at least. 5 years from now, we’ll all be like…

    “Hey guys, remember that time that Apple made that stupid splash page announcing something that really isn’t that big of a deal to anyone except technophobe soccer moms who never figured out that there are other ways to get music on your iPod beyond purchasing it through the iTunes store? And they said we would never forget it? Remember that? I do. That was so stupid.”

    I mean, I get that this is a big enough deal to warrant an announcement… but why say it’s going to be a day we will never forget? Every iPod owning Beatles fan already has all of these songs and has had them for a long time.

  3. I will never understand the iTunes store as long as I live apparently.


    Yeah! The Beatles are here! Oooh boy!…

    Wait, what? $1.29 a single for 40 year old music, $12.99 an album? $19.99 for “double” albums? $149 for the “box set”?

    Never mind, I’ll just grab the lossless super nice physical box set for $129 shipped off of Amazon, or individual albums shipped for 7.99 for single length or $11.99 for double length…


    Dear Apple, I appreciate that you have somehow figured out how to sell more total volume of music than any other single retailer by offering a truly amazing selection of a la carte singles sales, but you still remain as clueless as ever why 90% of your sales are singles, but 80% of all music sales are albums, just spread across all the other music retailers. Until you buy yourself a clue, you will continue to miss out on all these sales AND remain a pariah within the music industry for cannibalizing album sales while offering no viable alternative to the “dying” CD.

  4. CM – First, it is not like Apple has the only say in the prices of music offerings. If you will remember, that was a concession Apple had to make to the labels in order to offer DRM-free music. The labels only agreed to the unlocked items if Apple would give up some control on pricing. That is when we lost $.99 for any song.

    And as for albums, I buy just as many albums now (via iTunes and Amazon MP3) than I ever did on CD, vinyl or cassette. For one, if you walk into a Best Buy, Walmart or Target today, you will be walking into a decimated CD section. Their stock is next to nothing. Some of the current hits and a handful of back-catalog CD’s. Not because CD’s are flying off the shelf, but because CD’s are not selling. So why stock them? I only buy CD’s if the title is not on one of the major MP3 sellers. If I see an item I want on Amazon, I will pay $9.99 for the immediate download over paying the $7.99 for the CD and then paying shipping and having to wait for the delivery.

    The CD is “dying” for a reason. Too many “artists” are producing junk albums with one or two decent songs on them. I for one was absolutely sick of paying album prices for what equaled two worthwhile singles. The iTunes model has been great for me! I buy the songs I want. If I listen to the samples and enjoy several other songs (minimum of 5), I download the album.

    And given that the prices difference between a physical CD and an instant download are rarely more than a dollar or two (I know that is not always the case, but more often than not it is), I do not think Apple (nevermind the labels) is really missing out on many sales at all. They seem to be making out just fine without those folks that MAY opt for a CD that will now need to be physically stored. So, no “viable alternative” to the CD is needed. It is already there. Download an album if you miss the “experience” of an entire CD. You can still do that. Many of us just choose not to when better than 75% of an album is filler.

  5. #6 you’re completely lost on the two biggest advantages of the CD: Lossless audio quality, and no DRM *ever*.

    CDs are “dying” because most people are too deaf to miss what’s lacking even in a 128 kbps MP3, and are perfectly happy to be forever locked into the iTunes+iDevice universe.

  6. Actually, since iTunes dropped DRM for music completely back in early 2009, that eliminates the main advantage for most people. Granted, the files are in AAC format rather than MP3, but the number of devices supporting AAC has increased well beyond just iTunes and the iPod.

    Lossless, on the other hand, is an advantage only to those who care, and you’re right that most people can’t hear the difference even between a 128kbps file. Take that up to the 256kbps that’s now on iTunes, and the number of people who can consistently hear a difference is extremely small. Lossless is more valuable for archival and format conversion than it is for audio quality, but that’s not something that most users are likely to care much about either, whether due to lack of education on such things or simply due to the disposable mentality that many take toward music these days.

    That said, CDs aren’t really dying per se, as much as the tech industry would like to spin things otherwise. Consider that there are still a lot of average consumers out there who do not own digital media players at all, and even many who do are content to buy stuff on CD because there are deals to be found and buying CDs still just seems like the thing to do for most non-techie type users.

  7. Well Farnsworth, I half agree with you. But, iTunes no longer has DRM…for well over a year now. But, CD’s do offer lossless sound. Now the question remains (and you bullishly stated yourself) “How many people hear enough of a difference to warrant a CD purchase?”. Certainly not me. I have listened to Apple Lossless, FLAC, WAV/CD and 256+ bitrate MP3’s. The MP3’s sound pretty much as good under normal listening conditions. If I shelled out thousands of dollars on audiophile level equipment, maybe this would matter. But the fact is that most people are using modest equipment that does not highlight the higher quality. So, I am absolutely not “lost”. I am just not an audio snob that swears they hear the difference through their $75 headphones or a car stereo. If you can…buy CD’s. I will stick to iTunes and Amazon MP3’s. They suit my needs rather well.

  8. …and, I am estimating that my CD collection takes up roughly 40 square feet (all boxed up they fill a closet). The average price of a home in my area is about $100 per sq ft. So, that collection is taking up $4000 worth of room in my house. Sitting. Gathering dust. Unable to be legally sold because they must be present to prove ownership in the event the RIAA came kicking in my door.

    The entire collection PLUS the huge amount of downloaded material I have in MP3 format (because I ripped EVERY CD) is duplicated on two hard drives that cost me roughly $100 each and take up about 1 sg ft of space on my desk. And, last I checked, I can not cart my entire CD collection around the world in a pocket of my laptop bag. For MANY people, these benefits far outweigh the few reasons to have a CD. Like Jesse said, CD’s are not dead…yet.

  9. I love downloads for the convenience,but you can’t beat a nice boxset something like the new George Harrison – Ravi Shankar box just isn’t the same as a download,it all depends on how much you care for the artist in question some, stuff i like to have the physical disc others a download will suffice.

  10. I agree there Steven. A nice box set is a good reason to buy CD’s. Especially ones that you can display. I actually got the Beatles Stereo set on the little Apple USB. That is something else I would like to see from other groups with large catalogs. It is not very big, it looks nice and it has a lot of “space” to load with videos, photos, etc. Plus it comes with high quality MP3’s AND the FLAC versions. I am fairly impressed and wish The Who (Union Jack flag), The Stones (lips/tongue), Rush (ummm….not sure what they would be represented by) and some others would follow suit! A shadow box could hold a ton of great music this way

  11. I agree that CD sales are still the majority of music sales. And I do not think that CD’s should simply “die” off. They still have a place. But the digital music revolution, in my opinion, is not what is killing off albums. This “single” trend has been around for a very long time. 45’s, cassette/CD singles and now digital singles have been a staple of music collecting. What killed albums for me was the schlock that was being thrown out so that a group could meet some label quota. The mantra seemed to be “Give us 2-3 singles and then just fill out the album with crap”. The great bands (or even the ambitious bands) still produced solid albums that had quality songs throughout. But, even schlock bands can produce a good song now and again (see Nickelback). I do not care to own a full Black Eyed Peas CD, but I did download some of the catchier songs.

    I can honestly see where flagging album sales are tied directly to album quality. That was not the case in years gone by because the album was the ONLY way to get the songs you wanted in many cases. Take a look at Bruce Springsteen’s “The Promise” released today. That is a double album full of quality songs. And those were almost entirely cast-offs from two classic Bruce albums. That is a LOT of quality production over a short span. Bands today are generally not that productive. They barely get one album out. Much less an entire album full of music that “just didn’t make the cut” or didn’t fit the musical arc.

    My point is and has been that iTunes is not the devil. It provides EXACTLY what a great many people want…easy access to a huge catalog of songs AND albums. The prices are generally not outrageous and we get instant gratification. If we want the album, it is there (and we can sample the songs…which will be much better once the 60 second samples kick in). If we know that the album is garbage, but has one or two gems, we can get only those gems in most cases.

    If this spells the end of album centered music, than that would suck. But I do not think that it does. I do hope that the RIAA eventually gets a clue as to what is driving people to piracy. Before iTunes, I dabbled in peer-to-peer to find out of print and hard to find songs. I knew it was wrong, but I had little choice. I vowed that if someone made this material available at $1 per song, I would gladly pay it. And now I do. The labels have zero reason not to digitize their entire back catalog. It is money they are not making by simply not offering those archived albums. Get them online and take whatever money it generates.

  12. Unfortunately, the White Album has been delayed until Spring.

    Posted by ort on November 16, 2010 at 9:56 AM (PDT)


    Perhaps it suffers from the same issues as the White iPhone 4.

  13. Although this veers even more off topic, I always find the “album quality has declined” mantra to be proof of only one or two things: you have selective memory and and/or you’re getting old 😉

    I worked as an assistant manager in a record store in the very early 90s before any sort of public internet, and these same complaints were wide spread then, and growing up in the 80s they were equally common among the classic rock fans, and if my parents are anything to go buy, the mantra was already common place by the 60s. Now, either good music stopped being made sometime around 1955, or what I believe to be closer the truth is the case: To your own ears, the vast majority of music isn’t very good, and even removing the “your own ears” part most of it just plain sucks. The music industry, for at least most of the past century, has been predicated on marketing personalities who make some sort of rhythmic noise to the under 20 crowd who lack the experience to know any better.

    What has changed is not the ratio of gold to crap, because that’s always been extreme, it’s that the internet has made it so easy to figure out the difference. 14 y.o. Timmy in 1980 had exposure to commercial radio and two or three dozen albums. 14 y.o. Timmy in 2010 has exposure to pretty much every song ever recorded. It gets a lot harder to sell overpriced and overhyped albums in that environment.

  14. This is simply a classic case of Apple marketing: offering an inferior product (compressed AAC vs. CD) at a higher price (7.99$ in Amazon vs. 11.99$ in iTunes for a single album).

    I wonder if they can fool us all…

  15. Agreed to a great extent CM. And I guess that is why I am so in favor of the digital music revolution. I am 40 years old. Until recently, the music I was privy to was limited. Now I have a world of choices literally at my fingertips. I have discovered a lot of great songs that I never would have gotten to via the “radio and record store” marketplace of the past. But, like you said, this has also shown me the mountain of garbage that surrounds every great album.

    As for my “old” ears, I still enjoy a lot of current music. I can stand Ke$ha for what she is (almost all of her stuff is brainless…but catchy). I can also appreciate the finer points of Kanye West, Daughtry and Taylor Swift. And that is why I am on board with markets like iTunes and Amazon MP3. I can find the few tracks I like while avoiding the rest. But, I can still buy the entire new Kings of Leon, Bruce Springsteen or Fistful of Mercy albums that I know I will have a higher regard for.

  16. OK, Mitch, since I don’t like going on just my memory, I looked up the most recent sales figures I could find. These are from July 2010, representing the first six months of 2010 over last year. There have been some changes since the last time I looked these figures up, notably that digital album sales are now roughly 27% of all album sales versus 21% from 2009.

    Unfortunately, this has more to do with overall declining music sales and not any sort of switch from paying for a CD versus paying for a download of an album.

    Over the same six month period in 2009, physical CDs sold 133 million units versus 110 million units in 2010.
    Over the same six month period in 2009, digital albums sold 36 million versus 42 million units in 2010.
    In other words, over the same period that 6 million more digital albums were sold, there were 23 million fewer physical CDs sold, representing a net loss of 17 million in album sales.

    And, for whatever it’s worth, singles sales are static over this period, seeming to have hit their plateau (being roughly equal to about 50 million in albums sales).

    This lopsided math is not new, it’s been the trend all along. While the CD may be “dying” (btw, even if it continued to decline at these current rates, it’ll take about another 30 years before it drops to the level of current vinyl sales), wherever its former buyers are going is NOT to iTunes or other digital only sales venues because, as I said, it is not a proven viable alternative. Digital album sales may or may not catch up in time, or the whole concept of the album centered music industry may just go in the crapper and we’ll all be stuck listening to crap on the scale of Ke$ha and Katy Perry now and forever more.

    I think it far more likely people are just downloading CD quality music from non-paid sources because the industry gives them no choice. Stores aren’t stocking the amount or variety they once did and mail order takes time, conversely there is a large percentage of every bit of music ever recorded out there on demand just as quick as any legit music service at true CD quality (with ripping logs to prove it) 24/7 for nothing more than the cost of your internet connection.

    To bring this back on topic, The Beatle’s catalog is a perfect example. They screwed around for years before remastering the often merely OK sounding original digital conversions from the mid 80s. In the mean time, enterprising fans had used pristine vinyl and state of the art “ripping” equipment and sound processing to produce numerous bootlegs that were improvements on the official ones you could buy. These bootlegs could not be purchased, they could only be “pirated”, and so pretty much every single Beatles fan who knew about them dipped their toe into the briny seas for these bootlegs. By…

  17. Oh, and it’s also the #8 top-selling album on iTunes.
    Along with three others in the top-ten, for those who still think that The Beatles don’t matter…


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