The Beatles; on top of Apple for the second time?

06Sep09

This week sees the release of back catalogue from The Beatles, re-mastered and released in digital format.

The subject of who owns the Apple brand name and the rights to The Beatles’ music has been debated and sometimes challenged legally. Apple Corps and Apple Computers were still in legal dispute as recently as 2007. Further topicality has been added to the story recently, as Michael Jackson owned 50% of the performance rights (via Sony ATV) of The Beatles music. Apple Corps continues to own all video and photographic rights to Beatles’ material.

Apple Records

Apple Records

With agreements finally in place between Apple Corps (owner of Apple Records) and Apple Computers, The Beatles music may launch on the iTunes store this Wednesday.

Coincidentally YouTube have also recently settled, at least for the time being, the legal tussle over royalty payments with the PRS. It’s fair to say songwriters and performers aren’t receiving much in the way of royalties from free video download services; with YouTube the dominant supplier of such material.

Keith Waterman recently claimed that he has received only £13 in total for his share of rights payments for the 100 million plus downloads of Rick Astley’s video ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ on YouTube; although some might call this a form of social justice in this particular case.

Should Apple launch The Beatles on iTunes, the band would be set to perform on top of Apple for the second time in their career; the first being their final live performance together (30 Jan 1969) recorded on top of the Apple building in Mayfair. Whilest an iTunes debut would allow them to top the download chart from the Apple-owned website.

Once agreements are in place, if Apple and Apple are both smart, they could stagger and promote individual digital album releases; growing an audience over time, who discover or rediscover The Beatles. This should prove to deliver build commercial value than simply launching all the content or a greatest hits album from day one.

It would of course also be easy for iTunes users to create and publish their own playlists of The Beatles’ greatest hits if all the key tracks were released at once. This might reduce the likely exploration of lesser known tracks by consumers, at least initially.

Here is a reminder of my favourite Beatles track; Don’t Let Me Down. It originally appeared as a B side to Let It Be; although multiple versions were recorded. This particular performance marked a poignant end for The Beatles, at least for them playing live trogether.

The media mileage around the release of The Beatles material has been extensive in the UK; where it was supported by TV programming from the BBC and acres of press-coverage over the weekend. There were some great photos in The Sunday Times for example(Link: HERE).

Interestingly there is one definate release of re-formatted Beatles content this week, a video game. The Beatles: Rock Band will allow players of the Guitar Hero genre games to play along to over 40 Beatles originals; reworked for Wii, Playstation 3 and X-Box 360. Anticipate a Rickenbacker-loving revival in living rooms over the autumn.

The Beatles Rock Band

The Beatles Rock Band

While I can’t say there is a single Beatles track currently on my iPod yet, here are my 10 favourite Beatles recordings. It’s a mixture of their early Rhythm and Blues influenced sound, plus Ballads and late 1960’s Rock.

1. Don’t Let Me Down
2. Yer Blues
3. Get Back
4. Strawberry Fields Forever
5. Norwegian Wood (this bird has flown)
6. I Feel Fine
7. Ticket To Ride
8. Yesterday
9. All My Loving
10. I Saw Her Standing There

I guess the performance of Yer Blues by super-group Dirty Mac, with Lennon, was more my cup of tea. Apologies for Mick Jagger’s cringe-worthy effort at sounding American at the start of the clip HERE.

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One Response to “The Beatles; on top of Apple for the second time?”

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