Fortune: Apple close to landing exclusive iTunes Store deal with The Beatles

“While details remain to be worked out, Fortune has learned that iTunes is close to a deal to bring the Beatles catalog online. Apple Computer is said to be angling to become the exclusive online music store for the Beatles for a limited window of time. Other music stores, such as Microsoft’s MSN and Rhapsody, have courted the Beatles over the years to no avail, but it appears Apple is close to getting first dibs on the band’s hits,” Tim Arango reports for Fortune. (Related article: More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: MSN Music stops selling music downloads – November 03, 2006)

Arango reports, “When reached by Fortune, an Apple spokesman responded that the company does not comment on ‘rumor and speculation.’ If the deal goes through, it will mark a Nixon-Brezhnev-worthy truce – with the band’s record label, Britain’s EMI Group, serving as a peacemaker – between Apple Computer’s Steve Jobs and Neil Aspinall, the onetime Beatles road manager who is now guardian of the band’s business interests under the rubric Apple Corps.”

“At a recent industry conference, David Munns, head of EMI North America, said the Beatles would be available online ‘soon.’ The parties were hoping to make a splashy announcement to coincide with the Nov. 21 release by EMI’s Capitol Records of ‘Love,’ a mashup of Beatles songs that serves as a soundtrack to a Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil production. That didn’t happen. Apple Corps declined to comment,” Arango reports.

“As Fortune went to press, numerous deal points were still being hammered out. According to a music industry executive apprised of the talks, the parties were discussing how lengthy a window of exclusivity iTunes might get and how many tens of millions of dollars Jobs – who is said to be personally involved in the discussions – will commit to an advance for the band and marketing costs,” Arango reports.

Arango reports, “Also being discussed is whether the band would be willing to take two steps at the same time and endorse the iPod by allowing its music to be used in a commercial. Another scenario making the rounds is the prospect of the Beatles following U2’s example with a branded iPod. “If the Beatles were in an iPod ad, that would be humongous,” this executive said.”

Full article here.
An iTunes Store exclusive with The Beatles would be a massive deal. A special edition Beatles iPod along with ads? It would be hard to overestimate the value of that deal for Apple. The Beatles demographics would allow Apple to reach a vast market made up mostly of a generation of people who are so ignorant of technology that they made Windows the dominant OS. Last year, those 45 and older accounted for 25.5 percent of music sales. A Beatles iPod Halo would shine more brightly on the Mac than the normal iPod Halo, as it would reach the heretofore unreachable.

Related articles:
The Beatles stream ‘LOVE’ album for free online – November 17, 2006
The Beatles catalog to be available for download ‘soon’ – November 13, 2006
Apple will do ‘everything we can’ to lure The Beatles to iTunes Music Store – May 10, 2006
Apple Computer beats Beatles in trademark court battle, Beatles plan to appeal – May 08, 2006
Report: Apple vs. Apple judgement to be handed down May 8th – April 28, 2006
Apple Corps confirms plans to offer remastered Beatles songs for downloading, ‘no firm date yet’ – April 13, 2006
Beatles’ Apple vs. Jobs’ Apple closing arguments; judge’s ruling due toward end of April – April 05, 2006
Apple vs. Apple likely be in judge’s hands by Wednesday – April 03, 2006
Apple lawyer: ‘Even a moron in a hurry’ can tell difference between iTunes and Beatles’ Apple Corps – March 30, 2006
Apple vs. Apple opening arguments begin in UK High Court – March 29, 2006
Beatles’ Apple vs. Jobs’ Apple goes to UK High Court this Wednesday – March 26, 2006
Apple Computer and The Beatles’ AppleCorp should stop fighting in court and work together instead – July 27, 2005
Beatles vs. Apple Computer: outcome is far from a lock for Beatles – September 30, 2004
Apple vs. Apple settlement to result in iTunes Music Store Beatles exclusive? – September 23, 2004
Apple’s iTunes Music Store to land exclusive Beatles deal? – September 20, 2004
Apple vs. Beatles could be solved with fat check and spinning off iTunes from Apple Computer – September 17, 2004
Apple’s settlement with Beatles could be ‘biggest settlement in legal history’ – September 13, 2004
The Beatles to sell songs via Apple iTunes Music Store? – June 09, 2004
Apple loses: Apple v. Beatles to be heard in Britain – April 06, 2004
Beatles’ Apple vs. Jobs’ Apple; 1991 agreement allows for ‘data transmission services, even music’ – February 26, 2004
Apple Computer to contest Beatles’ U.K. lawsuit in court today – February 25, 2004
Jobs: Apple vs. Apple ‘could drag on for years – it’s unfortunate because we love the Beatles’ – September 28, 2003
Forbes: Apple vs. Apple; iTunes Music Store just might end up with exclusive Beatles deal – September 12, 2003
Sosumi: more on the Beatles’ lawsuit against Apple Computer, Inc. – September 12, 2003
The Beatles sue Apple Computer over iPod, iTunes – September 12, 2003
The Beatles’ Apple Records could be gearing up for fight with Apple Computer – August 12, 2003
The Beatles gearing up for a fight over Apple’s iTunes Music Store – June 03, 2003


  1. Hmmmmm. Mixed feelings about this one. In general, I don’t like it when acts “sell out”. Kinda like the weird feeling I got when I saw Bob Dylan in that iTunes commercial – or maybe that was just a flashback.

  2. I like the Beatles, but I think that if they had an exclusive with the Zune, my reaction would be “so what? that is a short term play and doesn’t appeal to the iPod market of post-beatles music listeners.”

    That said, I think it would be interesting for Apple to try to appeal to the older, non-iPod owners, with a Beatles’ campaign they can relate to. A 50 year old just isn’t going for the neon in-da-club iPod ads.

  3. YES!!! YES!!! YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!

    Rr I should say:
    YEAH!! YEAH!! YEAH!!

    Order me one Beatle iPod please!!!

    Even though I have every Beatle Album, every song on CD, and one of every iPod….

    Yeah, I’m that much of a Beatle fan!

    Put all songs on it, some out takes, some interviews, make it a great Beatle package Apple(s)!

  4. Apple vs. Apple

    “WAR IS OVER–IF YOU WANT IT” –John Lennon

    Finally. The Beatles Apple Corps grew a brain, 5 years too late, but better than nothing. They could have made a lot more if they started earlier, but I’m sure they’ll still make enough for Ringo to buy a new 17″ MacBook Pro (or 2). You can see it briefly in one of his web site home video’s.

  5. Any deal should settle the Apple brand name dispute for one once and for all, otherwise a deal seems pretty pointless to me.

    I don’t see the beatles songs selling in huge numbers on the iTunes store, in order to offset the costs of paying for an (exclusive) deal. My feelings are that the beatles are NOT popular amongst the iPod generation.

    The point of paying for exclusivity seems not worth it to me.
    The iTunes store is the only significant online music store; where else would they go, the Zune marketplace? LOL.

  6. MacMind,

    The point would not be to market to the current iPod target audience, but rather to grow the iPod audience by targeting Baby Boomers. As explained by MDN above.

    The Beatles would break all existing iTunes Store sales records with complete ease.

    You don’t get it.

  7. If true this is a huge deal. Sales are unimportant in this regard, having The Beatles would further cement iTunes as THE digital music store. If I weren’t already an iPod owner and store user, seeing an ad for The Beatles would be such a strong sign of the credibility of the service.


    Normally I don’t scream, but this could also kick-start a massive Beatles revival. Potentially equally huge for Apple.

    With special iPods, special ads and a target audience with lotsa spending power.
    Strawberry Fields indeed.

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