Apple Puts The Beatles On iTunes

Years of negotiations and a decades-long lawsuit culminate in a settlement.

Antone Gonsalves, Contributor

November 16, 2010

2 Min Read

Apple has finally added The Beatles catalog on iTunes, ending years of negotiations made possible after the two icons patched up their often-rocky relationship by settling a decades-long lawsuit.

Apple announced the deal Tuesday but did not disclose financial details. Fans of the Fab Four can buy individual songs for $1.29, single albums for $12.99 and double albums for $19.99. The catalog includes 13 studio albums. A "Beatles Box Set," which includes all the albums and a 1964 video of the group's first U.S. concert, is available for $149.

"We’re really excited to bring the Beatles’ music to iTunes," ex-Beatle Paul McCartney said in a statement. "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, the former group's drummer, said he was happy to see a deal finally reached with Apple. "I am particularly glad to no longer be asked when the Beatles are coming to iTunes," Starr said. "At last, if you want it -- you can get it now -- The Beatles from Liverpool to now! Peace and Love, Ringo."

Before the iTunes deal, The Beatles’ only venture into the digital world was on CD and a licensing deal with Electronic Arts for the video game "The Beatles: Rock Band." Apple's iTunes store, which opened in 2003, has sold more than 10 billion songs worldwide and is the largest music retailer in the U.S.

Serious negotiations between Apple, representatives of The Beatles and the group's record company, EMI Group Ltd., became possible after the settlement of legal problems that had lasted for decades. In February 2007, Apple and representatives of The Beatles settled a lawsuit stemming from the use of the Apple name and logo. The group had been using the trademark since 1968 when it founded its own record label Apple Corps.

Apple Corps., owned by McCartney; Starr; John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono; and the estate of the late George Harrison, sued Apple in 2003 for breach of contract, claiming the company broke a 1991 agreement over use of the Apple trademark.

While the latest announcement is likely to bring additional revenue to iTunes, it will unlikely lead to a major windfall to investors. When Apple on Monday said an iTunes announcement was coming, some Wall Street analysts had hoped for the introduction of a subscription-based version of iTunes or some other service to drive more revenue from the business. iTunes is essentially a break-even business for Apple.

Nevertheless, the deal is likely to bring some needed revenue to EMI, which has struggled financially since an ill-timed leveraged buyout by Terra Firma Capital Partners LP in 2007, according to The Wall Street Journal.


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