It's a curious thing. The Beatles are the best-selling band of all time and yet there's no way to purchase digital copies of the group's music online. For a time, this absence could be attributed to the trademark lawsuit between Apple Corps (the corporation in charge of the Beatles' music) and Apple (the technology company). But that suit was settled in 2007, and still iTunes, the number one-seller of digital music, carries none of the Beatles' catalogue. Why? The BBC asked Paul McCartney that very question on Friday. Paul responded:
To tell you the truth I don't actually understand how it's got so crazy... It's been business hassles. Not with us, or iTunes. It's the people in the middle, the record label. There have been all sorts of reasons why they don't want to do it.
The record label in question is EMI. Its failure to strike a deal with Apple has some outspoken Beatles fans outraged. Case in point: TechCrunch blogger MG Siegler. After brazenly admitting that he's illegally acquired the entire Beatles catalogue, he says it's EMI's "own damn fault."
This is pathetic. It has been over seven years -- let me repeat, 7 years (!) -- since the iTunes Store first launched. Ever since then, there's been no shortage of rumors that The Beatles' catalog would be available on the platform soon. This is both because Apple CEO Steve Jobs (like everyone else) loves them, and because it just makes sense to have the most-popular recording artists of all time on what is now the most popular store (both online and retail) for getting music. But EMI apparently doesn't care about making sense. And, it seems, they care even less about making money...
Think about the lost sales The Beatles have seen by not being available on iTunes over these past 7 years? The number of albums and songs that would have been downloaded legally would definitely be in the tens of millions range. Again, the key word is legally. People would have been paying for this music. Tens, maybe hundreds of millions of dollars has likely been lost because of EMI's odd decision to stay out of the online marketplace.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.