Beatles on iTunes? Yoko Says No Go

By  |  Friday, August 6, 2010 at 10:24 am

Reuters’ Dean Goodman snagged an interview with Yoko Ono in which she says that the Beatles aren’t likely to show up on iTunes any time soon:

“(Apple CEO) Steve Jobs has his own idea and he’s a brilliant guy,” Ono, the 77-year-old widow of John Lennon, told Reuters. “There’s just an element that we’re not very happy about, as people. We are holding out.

“Don’t hold your breath … for anything,” she said with a laugh.

If the main issue is Steve Jobs being stubborn about some unspecified negotiating points, shouldn’t Jeff Bezos rush in, buckle under, and give Paul, Ringo, Yoko, and George Harrison’s widow Olivia basically anything they want to get the Beatles catalog on Amazon MP3? Wouldn’t that be the best publicity Amazon ever got? Wouldn’t it sidestep having to do things Steve Jobs’ way? Wouldn’t there be a chance that Apple would respond by figuring out a way to make the Beatles folks happy?

And isn’t it increasingly bizarre that we’re this far into the digital music revolution and there’s no way to legally acquire the music of the greatest rock group of them all?

Back in November, I predicted that the Beatles would be available for download within 18 months. I thought that Sir Paul’s declaration at the time that it might not happen was canny hype for a release that was already in the works. Now I’m not so sure. The big question now: Will the Beatles be downloadable before the last CD store in the world closes, or after?


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6 Comments For This Post

  1. Andrew Says:

    There is a long history between the Beatles and Apple – the Beatles had a company called "Apple" some years before the other Apple and several writs have gone from the Beatles to Apple concerned with copyright infringement – although it has finally been settled.

  2. @spet67 Says:

    I'll point out the following:

    1. She's passing on the chance to have her husbands music sold in the biggest music store in the US.
    2. People who want digital music will simply find it on a p2p network for free. Some of them would probably have paid for it, given the chance.

    In short, she's passing on a lot of potential revenue.

    She is, however, pretty old and well off. So, that probably doesn't concern her very much.

  3. David Says:

    .. and the reason the Reuter's article mentions that she is 77 years old is, what?

    … that iTunes might soon be dealing with her executors?

  4. Heinz Says:

    The Beatles have been downloadable for as long as MP3's have been around. They could have made heaps of money from legitimate downloads by now. Instead, they've been losing out by dragging their feet for years.

  5. pond Says:

    If you look at the actual article, you will find that the reason why the Beatles are not available in digital form are two-fold:

    1. The heirs/survivors think they can make more money from physical sales
    2. EMI is trying to grab too much money.

    the iTunes issue, and the juicy quotes regarding Steve Jobs, are of course secondary to this main problem: why the Beatles are not available in legal digital downloads.

    Paul McCartney, years back, also alluded to the problems negotiating with EMI. Details are not available to the general public, but my guess is that (a) the Beatles hate, and have always hated, how EMI dealt with them — this was the reason they formed AppleCorps as their own label. (b) I’m also thinking that EMI is trying to claim that ‘digital versions’ are just like any other form of recording, so the 1960s contracts apply, while the Beatles are trying to claim that the notion of digital recordings, non-physical, were undreamt-of in 1963, so EMI has nothing to do with it, hands off our royalties! And then, in between these legal positions, there are negotiations: ‘We won’t sue you if you’ll just take a small share.’

    Just think about it. Microsoft has the Zune; Amazon sells MP3 downloads; Sony would love to strike a grand coup in the portable music arena which they invented with the Walkman. If Steve Jobs is a problem, well, why aren’t we seeing the Beatles catalog for sale from Zune, or Amazon, or Sony? If the problem were Apple then there’s an easy way for AppleCorps to cut Steve Jobs and Apple out of the equation 100%.

    No digital downloads at all, though? The problem lies with AppleCorps and EMI.

  6. jltnol Says:


    I grew up with The Beatles, but that was over FORTY years ago. There is enough, new, good music available without Yoko's participation.

    The Beatles will always be a great rock band, but only in the way that Benny Goodman was a great swing band….