By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 12:40 pm
It looks all but certain that the longest-running soap opera in digital music will run at least a little longer. The obligatory annual rumors that Apple was about to announce the availability of the Beatles on the iTunes Store have given way to disappointing sound bites from some pretty knowledgeable sources.
Sir Paul McCartney told NME, not very convincingly, that the appearance tomorrow of the Beatles version of the Rock Band game is a satisfactory alternative to Beatles downloads:
We’ve kind of bypassed that [download problems] because now you can do it in ‘Rock Band’,” he said. “I always liked that, when you’re told you can’t do something and suddenly there’s a little route round the back.
Meanwhile EMI’s global catalog president told the Financial Times that the company wants to make the Fab Four’s music available for download–eventually:
“Conversations between Apple and EMI are ongoing and we look forward to the day when we can make the music available digitally. But it’s not tomorrow,” Ernesto Schmitt, EMI’s global catalog president, told the FT’s Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson.
(In this case, I’m assuming that “not tomorrow” means both “not September 9th, 2009” and “not in the immediate future.”)
The word of Sir Paul and EMI isn’t enough for you? MediaMemo’s Peter Kafka seems to have found a third source with bad news:
The Beatles estate, Electronic Arts (ERTS) and Viacom’s (VIA) MTV will be releasing a new version of “Rock Band” that features the band’s songs tomorrow. And on the same day, EMI Music Group will release all of the band’s music on remastered compact discs.
But that’s it, a source familiar with the band’s plans tells me. For now.
As Kafka says, the theory that Apple would coordinate its announcement with tomorrow’s other Beatles news always seemed a tad unlikely: Why would it want to promote Rock Band, a game that doesn’t run on Apple hardware?
I’m not going to entirely discount the possibility of a surprise tomorrow until the event (which I’ll be liveblogging) ends and Paul McCartney hasn’t emerged from behind the curtain. I’m not sure why I care, since I long ago ripped the music I wanted from CD. Like most Beatles fans who have gone digital. Perhaps the band and EMI wants us to buy the music one last time on CD in these new remastered versions before it gives us the chance to purchase it yet again in downloadable form.
This whole saga is as old as the iTunes Store: It began with the news that the Beatles were suing Apple over iTunes and the lads’ Apple Corps trademark, segued into musings on whether digital Beatles were in the offing after the spat was settled, and in recent years has involved repeated rumors that a deal had already been struck and was about to be announced. After the jump, a recap of the last six years of developments.
At this point, if this is still going on in 2015 I’d only be slightly surprised…