The Beatles’ Long and Winding Road to Digital

From Mashable:

It has been 50 years to the day since The Beatles released their first single.

It was a funny story actually. If it was up to producer George Martin (different from George R.R. Martin, who wrote Game of Thrones), the first release from the group, now widely heralded as the best rock and roll songwriters of all time, would have been a song they did not even write.

Martin pressured the group to release a song called “How Do You Do It?” a cover track. The Beatles insisted on a quick ditty they had written, entitled “Love Me Do.” The song, which would be considered incredibly “pop” by today’s standards, was “artistic” for a 1962 recording (maybe it was the harmonica).

Though musical standards have changed significantly in the last 50 years, to this day, you cannot stream The Beatles’ music on Spotify.

“We want to get them on the service, that’s the bottom line. We just need to convince them of the benefits,” Spotify spokesman Graham James tells Mashable. “We are huge fans of The Beatles. They are icons.”

The Beatles Have Traditionally Moved Slowly

It may not seem like a huge deal. A motivated Beatles fan can find The Beatles music on the Internet. After all, you can look up pretty much any song on YouTube. Plus, many people probably maintain a long list of Beatles songs on iTunes. Heck, if worst comes to worst, you could dust off the old record player and listen to the albums on vinyl. The sound quality would be much richer and warmer than a highly compressed MP3, anyway.

However, this misses the point. Streaming services, most notably Spotify, have become an extremely popular way for people to consume music. So when the group that all but invented popular music is conspicuously absent from those platforms, it is natural to wonder why.

“I think part of it is that The Beatles have been very cautious to move into new technologies and new music-delivering formats,” Beatles expert Bruce Spizer tells Mashable. “Their original contracts date back to the 1960s, when no one envisioned the Internet, or even compact discs or videos.”

On that note, it was a similarly long process for The Beatles to release their catalogue on CD. The first CD players hit the market in 1982, but it wasn’t until 1987 that EMI and Apple Corps, the band’s record label and management company, released the music on disc.

We Can Work It Out: Apple Corps vs. Apple

When the main delivery platform for music went digital, again The Beatles were slow on the uptake. Due to lingering litigation with Apple (the computer company), Beatles music wasn’t available on iTunes until 2010.

The source of the grief between the two factions stemmed from the similarity of their company names. The Beatles formed Apple Corps, a record label and multimedia company, in the late 1960s. Apple, the computer company, formed in 1976.

“They had worked out an agreement in previous years, and the agreement basically was that the Beatles wouldn’t get into computers, and Apple computers wouldn’t get into music. But time went on, and the two began to blend together,” Spizer says. “Part of the problem was that they agreed to the initial agreements at a time when no one had contemplated these technologies.”

Continue reading the rest of the story on Mashable