McCartney goes digital, Beatles to follow


Paul McCartney is going digital.

"Memory Almost Full" the new album due June 5 via Hear Music, the new label formed by Starbucks Entertainment and Concord Music Group, will be the first McCartney solo release available for download and streaming on PCs and mobile phones.

As part of the digital marketing strategy, Starbucks plans to give the album prime positioning in its Hear Music area in the Apple iTunes Store. The digital distribution deal for McCartney is believed to pertain solely to the new album and not back catalog.

However the pact signals increased willingness on the part of the former Beatles to make music available for consumption online. In fact, McCartney tells Billboard that a deal to make the Beatles catalog available for sale online is "virtually settled." Music from the Beatles and the band's former members has been conspicuously missing from digital distribution offerings, and a glaring content hole for operators of music download and subscription services.

Available material has been limited to a handful of McCartney collaborations with the likes of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, select solo records from Ringo Starr and John Lennon & Yoko Ono's "Double Fantasy."

Efforts to clear the Beatles-related music for digital distribution have been previously held up by a long-running trademark feud between iPod/iTunes-owner Apple Inc. and Apple Corps., the Beatles label. The two sides finally settled the dispute in February, opening the door to clear the catalogs for distribution via iTunes and other digital retailers.