Beatles' iTunes negotiations stalled

McCartney cites EMI 'sticking points,' blasts major labels

LONDON -- The Beatles' back catalog won't be appearing on iTunes anytime soon, according to Paul McCartney.

Speaking at a media launch Monday in London for the new album by his alias the Fireman, "Electric Arguments," McCartney said Apple Corp. and the band's label EMI could not agree on terms to release the Beatles' catalog to iTunes and other download services.

"That is constantly being talked of -- we'd like to do it," McCartney said. "What happens is, when something's as big as the Beatles, it's heavy negotiations."

He added: "We are very for it; we've been pushing it. But there are a couple of sticking points, I understand. So the last word I got back was that it had stalled, the whole process.

"(EMI executives) want something we're not prepared to give them. Hey, sounds like the music business.

"It's between EMI and the Beatles -- what else is new."

"Arguments" is the third album released by McCartney under the Fireman alias with collaborator Youth, though it is the first with vocals. It was released on the indie label One Little Indian in the U.K. on Monday, and it is set to be released Tuesday in the U.S. on ATO/Red.

McCartney, who broke with EMI to release his solo album "Memory Almost Full" on Starbucks' Hear Music label in June 2007, said he was glad he left the major.

"I think the majors at the moment, I'm not dissing them, but I don't think they really know what's going on," he said, speaking at the Fire Station pub in London's Waterloo district. "With the download culture, they are floundering a little bit."

He added: "I think I was right at that time because right after that EMI got sold, so I would have been in the middle of a sale situation.

"The other thing is, they've got so many people on their books -- like it or not, you're just one of them. It's not a great situation; you like to feel like you're among friends, so that was why I ended up going independent. And this time it's kind of even more indie."

Asked by Billboard.biz about going up against Guns N' Roses' new release "Chinese Democracy," McCartney said: "I never look at who we're in competition with. I don't really feel in competition with anyone, particularly with the Fireman. It's one of those projects -- it's not like you're releasing as Coldplay, or Guns N' Roses for that matter. I wish them good luck with it because it's been a long time coming."

McCartney also criticized reality TV shows like the U.K.'s "The X Factor," describing them as a "phase we're going through."

"I'm not keen on it, but I watch it like everybody else," he said, adding that such shows are "compulsive viewing -- but so is a traffic accident."
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