Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Random thoughts on the iTunes deal

The Wall Street Journal has posted an interesting account of the negotiations that led to the release of the Beatles' catalogue for digital download:

It confirms my theory in my last post: Apple (the Beatles' company) deliberately chose not to make the downloads available at the same time as the remastered CDs last year, to ensure that download sales didn't eat into the profits of the CDs. Score one for the Machiavelli team.

What Machiavelli and his men hadn't counted on was that the day's news cycle would be dominated not by the Beatles on iTunes, but by the announcement of a royal wedding. There must have been a certain amount of cursing in corporate boardrooms when that story emerged yesterday morning.

Not that sales have been affected too much. The last time I checked, 20 of the Top 100 most popular songs on US iTunes were by the Beatles, and 10 of the Top 100 in the UK. 'Here Comes The Sun' was the top pick in the States; 'Hey Jude' in the UK. But significantly neither of those songs has yet showed up in the Top 20. We'll get a clearer picture of what's been happening at the end of the week.

I don't subscribe to iTunes, or indeed download any music, legally or illegally; my computer probably isn't up to it. So I'm left wondering: how careful have Apple/EMI/Apple been about the dividing line between songs that are seamlessly merged together on vinyl and CD? To choose a key example: if you buy 'A Day In The Life' by itself, how does the download start? Is it a clean beginning, or does your purchase begin with a few stray notes from the previous track? Any information gratefully received . . .


  1. I am left wondering what will be the digital future of the residual Beatles albums, in particular the Anthology CD's. I imagine these have already been 'remastered' and EMI and Apple are currently trying to decide how they can con us into re-buying both the physical cd's and the digital tracks. My guess is that the cd's will appear next Christmas with the i-tunes Anthology following a year later. And so it goes on.

  2. About two notes of the previous tune, and applause. As if the guitar strumming begins the song and there's about a second of applause overlapping that.