Beatles music goes digital

NEW YORK • Happy holidays from The Beatles: As of 12.01amyesterday, the band’s music finally became available on streaming services worldwide.

The legendary group announced the news in a 35-second video featuring a medley of their biggest hits that kicks off to the sound of their 1963 single She Loves You.

An accompanying news release on their website simply said: “Happy Crimble, with love from us to you,” employing a term popularised by the late Beatle John Lennon to describe Christmas.

Their catalogue – 13 original albums and four compilations – is now playable on nine subscription streaming music services: Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon Prime Music, Tidal, Deezer, Microsoft Groove, Napster/Rhapsody and Slacker Radio.

Ringo Starr, one of two surviving Beatles along with Paul McCartney, mentioned the streaming news on Twitter with a slew of emojis, a means of expression more in line with a younger generation. “We are coming to you from out of the blue,” Starr wrote, adding, “Peace and love peace love.”

The Beatles, the best-selling group of all time, are famed for classic studio albums such as Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Abbey Road and Revolver before breaking up in 1970.

Known as singular holdouts in the digital era, they resisted offering their songs on iTunes for more than seven years before coming to an agreementwithApplein2010.

“It’s fantastic to see the songs we originally released on vinyl receive as much love in the digital world as they did the first time around,” McCartney said at the time. The band sold 450,000 albums and 20 million individual songs in their first week on the service, according to Apple.

Now, streaming is the industry sea change too big to ignore. This month, Warner Music Group, one of the so-called big three label groups, said streaming revenue exceeded download revenue for the year.

And other classic rock resisters have come around recently: AC/DC started streaming their music this summer, following Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd in 2013.

The Beatles were already available on Pandora, the Internet radio service, since it does not offer on-demand songs; a court decision recently raised the royalty rate for labels and performers on those services, known as pure plays. The band members’ solo material is also widely available.

Modern artists, however, have started to resist streaming. Taylor Swift, who helped persuade Apple Music to pay royalties during its free-trial period when she protested publicly, has not made her albums available on streaming services with a free tier, such as Spotify, while Adele has so far kept her blockbuster 25 off streaming services.

The Beatles’ music will be available on the free and premium versions of services that have both.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 25, 2015, with the headline 'Beatles music goes digital'. Subscribe