Beatles' songs finally available on iTunes

The Beatles, from left, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison, are shown in this November 1963 photo. (AP Photo)
November 16, 2010 5:32:00 PM PST
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has finally done it. He has brought the Fab 4 to iTunes. The big announcement came at 7:00 a.m. Tuesday on the iTunes front page that the legendary Beatles songs from 13 albums can be purchased individually for $1.29 or the entire box set for $149, which includes a never-previously-released documentary of the band's first American concert at the Washington Coliseum in 1964.

The Beatles' music, until now, has never been released in digital form.

What does this mean for iTunes' 160 million users? Probably not a lot to die-hard Beatles fans, says Ben Fong-Torres, who has covered the music scene for over 40 years at Rolling Stone magazine and many other publications. Those fans, he says, already have the Beatles collection of vinyl or CDs, and most probably imported them into their iTunes collection years ago. However, the availability of the Beatles' anthology on iTunes will attract and create a new generation of fans.

"What this means is that the newer audience, the younger audience who are more digitally inclined and the completist, the person who must have every form of every Beatles record, will go to iTunes now and easily download box sets and albums and tracks and videos and whatever else they want in a very convenient way," says Fong-Torres.

The rare documentary performance from 1964 included in the box set was the band's first ever American concert.

"They did it just days after their appearance on Ed Sullivan," explains Fong-Torres. "It's the full documentary, warts and all, between songs, banter, technical and stage and microphone problems."

Some of those younger music lovers we saw with ear buds attached to iPods outside the Apple Store in downtown San Francisco indicated that they would probably buy Beatles' songs now that they're easily accessed and downloadable.

While George, John, Paul and Ringo caused a frenzy then, chances of a new wave of Beatlemania is doubtful.

"You cannot ever duplicate the first time in anything, and they were a phenomenon for that time," says Fong-Torres. "They are beloved because of what they did in that time."

This is a major victory for Jobs, who has been trying for years to get the Beatles on iTunes. However, the Beatles' company, Apple Corps, and Jobs' company have been engaged in a series of legal battles over the use of similar logos and the Apple name. Those turbulent years appear to be over, and today's announcement ushers in a new era of mutual benefit.

However, there are other holdouts who still do not sell their music on iTunes. Among them: AC/DC, Garth Brooks, Kid Rock, Bob Seger and Def Leppard.


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