The Business: Deal of the Week

Issue 55 - 7 Days of Deals: Beatles
Evening Standard/Getty Images

The Fab Four are ready for their downloads, 46 years after their U.S. invasion.

How the Beatles Finally Joined iTunes

News of Apple closing a deal to offer the Beatles catalog on iTunes prompted renewed speculation that the Fab Four’s long delay had to do with bad blood between Apple and Apple Corps, the corporation that controls rights to Beatles music, over the use of that fruity trademark. After all, when Apple got into the music business 10 years ago with its iPod, Apple Corps filed a lawsuit, contending that the Steve Jobs-led company had violated a previous agreement not to compete in the music arena. But that dispute was resolved a couple of years ago. Sources say the real issue has been a dispute between Apple Corps and EMI, which owns the Beatles’ master recordings, over what percentage of royalties the label should pay the band. The two sides have battled on the royalty front before, and Paul McCartney has blamed the conglomerate for refusing to sufficiently compensate the band for digital sales. But when Roger Faxon took over as head of EMI’s recorded music division during the summer, resolving the digital stalemate with the Beatles became a top priority. Faxon arranged a September meeting with Apple Corps CEO Jeff Jones to hammer out the broad parameters of a deal, allowing lawyers at the U.K. firm Eversheds to begin working on the details. Terms were not disclosed, but Billboard speculated that the band received a substantial advance in exchange for exclusive digital-sales rights to the catalog until sometime next year, as well as creative concessions relating to how the music is presented
on iTunes.