The news was so big, Apple changed its homepage this Monday, with a teasing little promise of an “exciting announcement” to follow on Tuesday. “Tomorrow is just another day. That you’ll never forget,” were the parting words. Then this morning came, with the answer to the question so many fans have been asking for decades, even from the surviving beetles themselves. The entire catalog of the Fab Four’s recorded treasures will be available on iTunes as of now. Impassioned fans can purchase an entire box set for a fee of $149, and most individual tracks will sell for $1.29. Album can be had for $13, and double albums, such as Past Masters are $20. It seems it doesn’t take much money to by a lot of Beatle music love.
Each of the 13 remastered albums will feature exclusive iTunes extras, including a mini documentary on the making of each collection. The box set features full footage of the “Live at the Washington Coliseum” first-ever U.S. concert, but the footage will also be available for free streaming until the close of 2010. Apple boss Steve Jobs is an avid Beatles fan and collector, and naturally was buoyant with the hard won jewel for his personal and business crown. Apple and Apple Corps, managers and holders of all things Beatles, have been entwined in complicated and sometimes quite unfriendly legal battles since 1978 over infringement issues and reached their latest settlement in 2007, giving Apple rights to Apple trademarks, and in turn license rights back to Apple Corps. Jobs gushed, “Thanks to the Beatles and EMI, we are now realizing a dream we’ve had since we launched iTunes ten years ago.” Sir Paul McCartney beamed in his approval, saying, “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.” Ringo Starr added a note of relief, responding “I am particularly glad to no longer be asked when the Beatles will be coming to iTunes. At last, if you want it-you can get it now-The Beatles from Liverpool to now. Peace and love, Ringo.” Yoko Ono Lennon was particularly pleased that the new format transition came in the year of her late husband’s 70th birthday, and Olivia Harrison gave the day a “Bravo”.
There are only a handful of artists left who have not succumbed to the lucrative lure of the digital era, Garth Brooks, Kid Rock, and old-time rock-and-roller Bob Seger among them. No doubt the instant connectivity of the digital era will eventually sweep away much of music’s warm nostalgia, but it also makes music more available across the universe, so perhaps it’s worth the compromise.