You still can’t download the Beatles’ catalogue legally on the Web. But you may be able to play along with the Fab Four’s digitized tracks via a video game, says the FT.
The paper says the band’s reps are talking to Activision (ATVI), the company behind “Guitar Hero” franchise, and MTV (VIAB), who launched the similar “Rock Band” game last year. The report doesn’t spell this out, but our assumption is that the band’s music would be incorporated into one or both of the existing games, rather than forming the basis for a new game. A deal would be worth “millions” and could be “reached in a matter of weeks,” the paper says.
rumours notwithstanding, the Beatles are one of the last major holdouts from iTunes (AAPL). Why would the band be willing to licence their tunes to video games before the world’s most popular digital music store? Two possible answers:
- You got us. We gather, via second-hand sources, that the band (that’s Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with John and George’s estates) hasn’t ever fully come to grips with the Internet, and what it does and doesn’t mean to both creators and consumers of music. Though as the FT notes, Apple Corp, the band’s business entity, has become more interested in licensing deals in the last year or so, since new management has taken over.
- If you do want to licence your music digitally, doing it via the games is a cautious first step: Because they’re novelty items, a la ring tones, you can sell each song for more than the going price of an iTunes download (most are going for about $1.99). And because they’re downloaded directly into the video game, you don’t have to worry about cannibalising future digital sales.
We still expect to see a Beatles/iTunes deal… someday. But the Fab Four are going to have offer something pretty special when they do get around to it — it’s not as if people can’t find it on the Web right now.