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You say you want a revolution: Apple and Beatles work it out

By ameyers

Section: Arts

February 9, 2007

Beatles and Apple reach an agreement over catalog, songs rumored to be available for download on iTunes shortly.

Earlier this week, Apple Computers, Inc. announced that it had made a major deal with famous rock icons The Beatles after years of argument over the rights to the Apple name and logo. This deal presents what could turn into an interesting year for both Apple and the group for several reasons, particularly since The Beatles could make history yet again on the charts, this time digitally through the music service provider, iTunes. The agreement may also revolutionize iTunes itself and allow it much more freedom than before.

The whole rift between the two started after The Beatles famously founded Apple Records in 1968 in an effort to try and release their own music and discover new artists. Shortly thereafter, Apple Computers came along and blossomed, living in coexistence with Apple Records. In 1991, the two entities agreed that neither would have to change their name and that Apple Computers would not be allowed to sell any products whose principal application is music. More recently, The Beatles lost a lawsuit protesting this, maintaining that iTunes and the iPod should qualify as products going against this agreement. Yet this past week, the two parties came to an agreement, as Apple Computers will now own the name, the logo and the Apple trademark in exchange for fifty to one hundred million dollars.

The deal will certainly open up what could be a major market for both parties. If The Beatles entire catalog were to be released onto iTunes for the first time in the next couple of weeks–which is highly probable–who knows what the charts may look like. The release of The Beatles 1 in 2000 made it the fastest selling album of all-time, as it reached number 1 in the U.S. and sold over 12 million copies worldwide. There is no telling what might happen here with the entire catalog presumably being released. Many have asserted that the Fab Four could represent the ENTIRE top 40 most downloaded songs on iTunes. Gamblers will have a field day trying to guess which beloved Beatles song is the most downloaded, with Hey Jude at 8-to-1 odds of reaching the top, and then Yesterday at 9-to-1 odds. Bookies are also placing 10-to-1 odds on the group to take the top 10 spots on the singles chart, because download sales are factored in to the total amount of copies of a single that are sold.

The Beatles were by no means the only major entity not to be represented on iTunes: Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Radiohead are among the other artists not currently downloadable on the popular music player.

Perhaps a very overlooked aspect of the deal is that Apple is now able to sell CDs and music. This ability will allow Apple to put preassigned tracks onto every new iPod and could quite possibly revolutionize the mp3 player as we know it. Apple will have the ability to make contractual deals with various artists, similar to the partnership with U2, but on a much grander scale. Wired magazine has even mentioned the idea of a Yellow Submarine iPod being distributed as part of the special Beatles release. Both well-known and lesser-known artists will certainly be willing to pay great dividends to have their music preloaded onto such a hot product. Now anyone may be able to walk into a store and purchase an iPod full of music.

The move is certainly a beneficial one for Apple and should certainly stir up a newfound Beatlemania all across the globe for a brand new generation. It seems that everything has certainly come together here for Apple and the Beatles in the latest bold move by Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs.

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