Beatles songs on iTunes: Sony/ATV says it’s ‘untrue’

Well folks rumors are still rumors. Take them for what they are worth. It looks like the grumblings that we have heard on and off for the last couple of days hold very little water. The reports we read from British newspapers, that we reported on earlier, are nothing more than rumors and speculation.

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Sony and Apple have spoken out and dispelled any reports as being untrue. It looks like the speculation and the waiting will continue until further notice. We will all have to wait quietly (or not so quietly) until we get the official announcement that an agreement has been penned.

Here’s what we’ve read.

The company that owns the rights to a vast majority of the Beatles music catalogue has questioned reports that the Fab Four have cut a deal with Steve Jobs.

Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the joint venture owned by Sony and singer Michael Jackson, has thrown cold water on reports out of London that the Beatles catalogue would soon be available on iTunes. A spokeswoman for Sony/ATV Music Publishing told CNET.com.au sister site CNET News.com that the reports are “untrue.”

Sony/ATV is a pretty good source. While EMI Group owns the recording rights to the Beatles catalogue, Sony and Jackson own the rights to the vast majority of the catalogue’s publishing rights. Had a deal been cut, Sony/ATV would “absolutely be informed,” the Sony/ATV spokeswoman said.

Stories about the Fab Four heading to iTunes crop up every few months, it seems, and rumours and unconfirmed reports have been circulating for five years. This time, the story appeared to have legs as it was reported by three large British newspapers. They all cited unnamed sources.

A high-level music industry source said an agreement between the Beatles and Apple could still get inked in 2008 but that it hasn’t been finished.

Representatives for EMI and Apple declined to comment for the story.

One has to wonder why these rumours and unconfirmed reports continue to crop up. Is it a case of wishful thinking on the part of Beatles fans or Apple?

The availability of the Beatles, the best-selling band of all time, on iTunes would send the most dramatic signal to date that digital downloads are an integral part of mainstream music, said Susan Kevorkian, a music analyst with research group IDC.

“It’s important for iTunes and online music services in general because it legitimises IP-based music services,” Kevorkian said. “It also points to the fact that digital music services are maturing when important groups that have been high-profile holdouts come onboard.”

In the last several years, Madonna, Led Zeppelin, and Metallica — artists who once spurned Internet sales of their music — reversed themselves and embraced iTunes.

Earlier Monday (US time), Chris Castle, a music lawyer and former record label executive predicted that a Web-based Beatlemania would be big for iTunes and Beatles fans alike.

He said the Beatles could release formerly unreleased music “that they might have lying around,” and the offering could also include some kind of video element. He said that even though the Beatles broke up nearly 40 years ago, Castle said Apple Corps, the Beatles’ media company, would find a way to “dress up the offering” so that it would create excitement even among longtime Beatles fans.

Jeff Jones, the new head of Apple Corps, “is known as a catalogue genius,” Castle said. “If there is anybody that can figure out how to make this work it’s him. I would expect to see some pleasant surprises from Jeff.”

Castle said that what fans likely won’t find with a Beatles offering on iTunes is a discount.

“This is a band that has sold music at premium prices for four decades,” Castle said. “They’ve never been discounted. I would be shocked to see any competition on price. Think about it. The Beatles have kept (their brand) precious and popular for a long time. They’ve done this by knowing how to treat their fans and knowing what didn’t work for them.”

The Beatles were unlikely candidates to join iTunes. Apple Corps had a series of trademark disputes with Apple Inc. going back to 1976 when Beatle guitarist George Harrison saw an ad for the then Apple Computer. The band thought the new company had infringed on their trademark and sued. The case was settled out of court.

There were other legal skirmishes along way, but last year, Paul McCartney told reporters in Great Britain that he thought a deal with Apple CEO Steve Jobs was close to being finalised.

If and when the Beatles arrive at iTunes, there’ll be plenty of people who will ask, “Why all the fuss?” The music has been available for free on peer-to-peer sites for years.

According to Castle, the Beatles were an unprecedented combination of talent and timing, and even after all this time, still possess an enormous following.

“You had the musical genius, business genius, and extraordinary popularity that crossed all genres and formats,” Castle said. “You’ve never had that before or since.”

Source: CNET

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One Response

  1. Yawwwwwwnnnnn…

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