Beatles Finally Coming To iTunes? Not So Fast (AAPL)

Are the Fab Four finally coming to iTunes? A story in the UK’s Telegraph says one of the last holdouts from Apple’s (AAPL) music store is about to break down and start selling their catalogue online. We’ll believe it when we see it.

Update: Apple has put an end to this silliness, at least for now.

The Beatles are constantly supposed to be on the verge of an iTunes deal, but one has yet to materialise. We have no doubt that one will, eventually. But the Telegraph’s report isn’t persuasive. Why?

  • The news seems to have surprised people at music label EMI, who would presumably know if one of their most valuable assets was about to go online.
  • The story describes the decision to sell through iTunes as one made by Paul McCartney, and our understanding is that all four of the Beatles, or their estates, have control of the catalogue.
  • More important, the Telegraph suggests that Apple is shelling out $600 million for the rights to sell the Beatles songs online. This makes little sense: As far as we know, Apple has never paid an advance to any label or any artist for the right to sell their music. And if they did in this case, $600 million seems preposterous: Apple grosses about 33 cents for each song sold, which would mean the company would have to sell a staggering 1.8 billion Beatles songs to recoup its investment. Apple has sold 4 billion tracks in total since 2003.

See Also: No Beatles On iTunes Next Week

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