Apple this week announced that the entire Beatles library of music would finally be available for purchase on iTunes, marking the first time the band from Liverpool’s music has ever been available as digital downloads. For years, the Beatles remained conspicuously absent from iTunes and some wondered if a deal between all the relevant parties would ever be hammered out.
Detailing the behind the scenes negotiations, the Wall Street Journal explains how newly minted EMI CEO Roger Faxon was able to work with Apple Corps CEO Jeff Jones to get a deal finalized.
Under the terms, Apple Inc.’s digital media store is the Beatles’ exclusive online retailer at least until January, Mr. Faxon said in an interview Tuesday, after the much-awaited deal was announced. It marks the first time that Beatles songs have been available for digital-download sales.
“Jeff and I sat down shortly after I arrived” as CEO of EMI, Mr. Faxon recalled. “We agreed this really was the moment to do this. After that it was very easy to cut a deal.” They code-named the initiative “Bastille,” as it coincided with Bastille Day.
The next four months were spent on the details of a final agreement between band and record label, then nailing down terms with Apple Inc. and iTunes.
The Journal points out that while EMIL still owns the Beatles’ master recordings, the band members and their significant others (yes, including Yoko) still have veto power over new uses of the remastered studio recordings via Apple Corps. Faxon also noted that all the parties wanted to hold out on an iTunes agreement until after they released remastered CD versions of Beatles albums – which in hindsight was a shrewd move considering that the remastered discs have sold over 3.3 million units thus far since coming out last fall.