You see, there was this band called the Beatles, and at one time they ruled the planet. And they still semi-rule the planet, even though half of them are dead and the other half are into their seventh decades of life. But despite their unrelenting good fortune – or perhaps because of it – this band has never made any of their music available through the legit download sites on the Internet.
- Representatives for The Beatles have spoken with numerous online music providers, ranging from small companies to Microsoft, which is planning to open an Internet music store this year. The Beatles’ side is asking for a considerable sum in return for providing exclusive online distribution rights, perhaps for as long as a year or more.
“They are looking for someone to come up with the ideal way to put The Beatles online,” one digital music executive told CNET News.com.
That interest could lead to a milestone in the short history of digital music. Online music services are struggling to prove they can offer more music than a brick-and-mortar store, and the lack of songs by rock and roll’s premier group has been an oft-cited gap in their appeal.
The Beatles broke up more than three decades ago, but their music continues to sell in high volumes.
“One of the things that has held back digital music online has been lack of availability of very popular artists, notably among them The Beatles,” said Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg. “If they are able to come to some sort of licensing terms, it bodes very well for the online model and would probably pave the way for some of the other holdouts to come online.”
But it may be some time before “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Let it Be” are sold on Apple Computer’s iTunes or on Napster. One idea being considered is a Beatles-branded store that would be the only place online where the group’s music, videos and other multimedia products would be sold, sources said. The store could be operated by one of the existing online music services.
Some other marquee bands have pursued this strategy, but it has not been adopted widely. Musician Dave Matthews maintains an exclusive online store on a site operated by MusicToday, a company associated with his manager.
Other big-name artists still waiting on the digital sidelines, to one degree or another, include Led Zeppelin and Madonna.
….In an earlier technology shift, and another example of a cautious approach, The Beatles catalog appeared on CD well after most of the music world had already made the transition.
Any exclusive deal–especially if the music is distributed in a proprietary copy-protected format from a company such as Apple or Microsoft–could spotlight the growing problem of the lack of interoperability between services, digital music formats and portable devices, analysts said. [CNET]