The Beatles’s music changed rock and roll history for ever. John, Ringo, George and Paul proved that rock and roll music could truly be art as well as a commercial success. With such critical and commercial acclaim over the band’s music, it’s hard to imagine that for years, it was difficult to actually listen to the Beatles’s music, but in the early years of iTunes, the Beatles weren’t part of the lineup. Since 2010, the Beatles’s catalog has been available for download on iTunes, and as of December 24, 2015, the Beatles’s catalog is now available to stream, not just on Apple Music but other streaming services as well.
But when you start streaming “Let It Be,” you’ll be getting a lot more than just access to a few extra music files. The buildup to this monumental shift to allow streaming services to carry the Beatles’s music has been extraordinarily complicated. There’s a lot of history that goes into streaming just one of the Fab Four’s songs.
It seems strange that the biggest band in the world would fight the future of music consumption, namely MP3 downloads, but the story is actually a bit more complicated than that. Though each of the individual members had their solo projects available to download on iTunes, a long court battle kept the Beatles’s music off iPods. As a result of the decades-long fight between Apple Corps (the record label that the Beatles founded in the 60s, pronouncedÂ core — get it…?) and Apple (formerly known as Apple Computer), the Beatles’s music was off limits to Apple.
Even after iTunes was introduced,Â for years afterward, the Beatles’s catalog was not available to download on iTunes, so if you wanted to purchase “Revolver,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club,” “Rubber Soul” or any of the fab four’s other great albums or songs, you had to actually go to a store and purchase a physical copy.
In 2010, the Beatles finally joined iTunes. The dispute between Apple Corps and Apple
Computer Inc.Â (dropped in 2007) came to a kind of resolution, and iTunes users were able to purchase digital copies of the Beatles’s albums. You might remember seeing Apple’s ads that featured still images of the band matched with some of their biggest hits. This resolution between Apple Corps and Apple was aÂ big deal for the music industry, but a few short years later, Apple (and other music streaming services) found itself at odds with Apple Corps again.
Though iTunes users have been able to purchase the Beatles’s music on iTunes since 2010, they haven’t been able to stream it on Apple Music or any other streaming service. The exclusion of the Beatles in the Apple Music catalog was actually one of the strongest arguments against Apple Music as a streaming service — the Apple Music catalog is not the iTunes catalog; some artists refused to allow their music to be streamed on any streaming software. You might remember when Taylor Swift made some waves concerning the availability of her music, specifically the blockbuster “1989” albumÂ on Apple Music. (Since then, it seems that Apple and Swift have worked things out — Apple Music got exclusive rights to stream her “1989 World Tour Live” concert.)
Until late last year, streaming The Beatles’s music was not possible, and even now, some of the band’s music has been excluded from streaming services. As Chris Welch atÂ The Verge points out, several of the band’s albums are still not available for streaming on Apple Music or Spotify, including “Let It Be… Naked,” a stripped down version of the classic album, “The Beatles Anthology,” “Love,” “The Beatles in Mono” and “Live at the BBC.”
So while we may not have access toÂ all The Beatles’s music through Apple Music, being able to stream their studio work is monumental, given the rocky history between Apple Corps and Apple.
For people who have been streaming music for years, having The Beatles’s catalog accessible will surely lead to a boom in the band’s music, a rekindling of the love we have for this groundbreaking band, and it may even lead to new people being introduced to the band’s music, but it remains to be seen if having The Beatles’s music readily accessible for streaming will make a big difference for streaming services in general. Will people opt to spend $10 a month for a streaming service, Apple Music or another, to have access to The Beatles’s catalog? Do most people already own the music on iTunes? Adding The Beatles’s music to Apple Music’s catalog may ultimately lead to a bump for Apple Music, yet another win for Apple in this old confrontation between the company and The Beatles’s record company, Apple Corps.
Are you already using Apple Music? If not, do The Beatles’s albums make you more likely to try it out? Let us know in the comments below.