November 17, 2010
Steve Jobs has made no secret of his wish to draw The Beatles into his Apple universe, and once again, he has managed to turn his vision into reality. The legendary band has been deeply reluctant to join the digital download music revolution, but the day has come, spurring weighty reflections and hallelujahs in the form of one-liners pulled from the group's vast library of songs.
Big Apple, Little Apple
iTunes' offerings will include each of the Beatles' 13 studio albums, from "Abbey Road" to "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Single albums are available for US$12.99; double albums for $19.99; and individual songs for $1.29.
That represents a 30 percent price bump from the usual 99 cents for a single, noted Texas Tech University professor of literature and science Bruce "Bruno" Clarke, a former member of the hit 60s and 70s rock group Sha Na Na.
What many may perceive as a long holdout between the two Apples probably involved "contractual issues that were highly convoluted," Clarke said told MacNewsWorld. "The Beatles probably held out for more than Jobs wanted to cough up until iTunes was solid and could scale the economies of the venture."
Calling it good for all parties involved, including listeners and fans, Clarke added the deal "will finally put that sublime catalog in closer reach of younger folk."
Vinyl to Digital
In a prepared statement, band member Sir Paul McCartney brought home a salient point: i-Tuning The Beatles may represent the ultimate conversion of vinyl to digital.
"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," McCartney said.
The ramifications of this vinyl-to-digital conversion also likely caused negotiation delays, Christopher Smith, associate professor and chair of the department of musicology at Texas Tech University, told MacNewsWorld. Overcoming fear of easy duplication would have been an obvious hurdle -- but basic artistry would also have been at issue.
"I'm confident that Ringo and Paul were very involved in these negotiations and very concerned with issues of artistry," Smith said, noting that overcoming those concerns -- many of them intrinsic to the new format -- probably weighed on them heavily.
"Download a track from 'Sgt. Peppers' Lonely Hearts Club Band' on iTunes out of order, and you lose a layer of artistry," he explained. "And for musicians like The Beatles, cover art and the vinyl jacket were very important parts of artistic expression. You had photos from sessions, lyrics, comments -- all manner of communications that made a vinyl LP an integrated whole. Downloaded digital singles simply don't have those layers."
Now that everything's resolved, Smith expects the bigger Apple -- the computer company -- to benefit the most, but he also sees great benefits to young listeners.
"Texas Tech offers a senior level course on The Beatles, and I say from experience that anyone under 25 is unlikely to hear their music unless it's available for digital download."