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The Beatles, the album, and the digital world.

It is fascinating to think of The Beatles’ and their music in these terms- groundbreaking and introductive.  As a longtime fans, it seems that “we” take it for granted sometimes.  The music is something so ingrained in our fabric as people, whether we are first, second, or third generation fans it does not matter.  The Beatles going digital (with the remastered CD/albums) will truly be the second coming of The Fab Four- a reinvention for the digital 21st century if you will.

I think that is what makes all of this exciting. It makes things fresh, allows fans to gain a new perspective, and attracts an entire new throng of rabid Beatle fans.  You see, I don’t care if the teeny boppers don’t scour each album and each note, or if they only download the singles that they like.  The only important thing is to simply listen and enjoy.  However, it does look that The Fab Four are poised to filly embrace the digital revolution and finally welcome it with open arms.

Here’s what we’ve read.

While the record industry had been in existence since the 19th century, it was in the 1950s and 1960s that it really took off, especially with The Beatles. Forty years later, the record industry is in major transition: the shift from physical formats and sales to that of digital downloads and portable mp3 players. The recent settlement between Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Apple Corps Ltd. only confirms that something big is on the horizon for the industry. How big though, is the question. If a band as historic as The Beatles go digital with remastered tracks, not only will the fan base have a field day, but mp3 listeners in general will feel the pull to buy these tracks.

The Beatles catalog was first remastered for disc in the mid-80s, with the CDs out on the shelves at different times over the course of 1987. It has now been twenty years since their catalog was updated (which is an interesting time period between updates – 1960s-1980s-2000s – twenty years), and every day the update is more and more confirmed, though the release date is never mentioned. The rumors said the Love album would be out in time for Valentines Day, but since that is tomorrow, the rumors were wrong. As of today (release day for new music), the Love album has not appeared on iTunes or other music downloading stores.

The big question about such a large catalog being released to downloading stores is the impact it will have on the industry. Already, in the United Kingdom, downloaded tracks count toward the single charts, and it is being predicted that when The Beatles music is released onto these sites, they will re-“conquer” the charts and dominate like they did in the 1960s. Certainly such a massive boost to the industry is in order, but is it safe to let past bands (i.e. groups from the 60s, 70s, 80s) reinvigorate the industry? Especially since downloading is incrementally increasing with each passing year (the success of downloading has not matched the success that the CD initially enjoyed in the mid-1980s).

The major dilemma is the choice between a physical and digital format. At the same time that Apple first introduced the video iPod, DVDs were starting to be packaged with CDs as bonus discs with video and live material. The price difference between the bonus DVD version of an album and a “regular edition” is not too different either. Reports keep saying that the album is dying, but these type of measures only insure that the album has the fighting edge over the download, but neither are faring so well anyway. For me, my iPod and the ease of purchasing songs from iTunes did not (and still hasn’t) replaced my buying of CDs. Despite the ease of a click, there are certain attributes a physical CD (and a vinyl album) have over the digital download. Although we purists (CD or vinyl, if you like the label) may not be ready to give in, digital downloads will surpass CD sales eventually, it is just a waiting game to see how long it takes and when it will happen.

Whether The Beatles will join other past bands and join the digital market in 2007 is yet to be seen (although if hints are any indication, then it certainly will happen). If they do join the digital market, it will be the only new market they enter, because “new” and remastered CDs of their albums will be re-issued as well. The pessimism about the “end of the album” and what will happen to the market if The Beatles enter it seem unfounded. The vinyl album did not die entirely when the CD was introduced and the CD is far from its deathbed. After nearly a decade of digital downloads, the CD enjoys healthy sales and that means no coffin will be needed just yet.

Source: Blogging Stocks


4 Responses

  1. What technology has given the music fan is simply: choice. In my time, the method of listening to music has been constantly updated with formats coming and going (and some refusing to go away). 45’s, LP’s, reel to reel, cassette, 8-track, CD’s, DVD’s, and mp3’s. Cross gendering, such as copying LP’s and 45″s to cassette has been around since the early seventies (remember Walkmans?) and is really no different that ripping CD’s to mp3’s.

    Purists will select their favorite mode of operation and stich with it. The younger fan will usually embrace the newest technology and be happy. This process is never ending as I am sure there are new means of listening being planned for us as we speak.

    The bottom line is to be glad there is a choice for us and we can all enjoy our selected music in whatever convenience we wish.

    I just do not understand the veil of secrecy shrouding the release dates???

  2. I don’t care how it gets to my ears.

    But I do care about what I hear. Mono versions of Help!, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt Pepper and the White Album must be made available. That is how they were originally presented, and they sound much better in mono.

    Apple could release mono and stereo versions in one pack, or even on one CD. The single albums are only half an hour long.

  3. I wish anybody with any new information would leave it on ths blog.Will the Beatles music ever be ready for listening in a digital format.The so called purists are idiotic not wanting to hear their music remastered .I use the Yellow Submarine [songs from the movie]as evidence .it is astounding just how good they really were and a tragedy it had to end so suddenly. I am getting older so please hurry before my hearing gets any worse .signed an OLD Beatle fan

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