Well this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. For years, Apple tried in vain to get the Beatles music catalog up on iTunes, but a slew of sticking points and legal entanglements prevented a deal from being reached. That all changed in November when Apple announced that the Beatles entire 13 album discography would for the first time in history be available as digital downloads. Moreover, it’s even been reported that Apple secured the rights to the Beatles catalogue into 2011 though a specific timeline is not available.
In any event, the Beatles on iTunes more than lived up to the hype. Backed by a ubiquitous and hard to miss black and white ad campaign, the Beatles, in just their first few days on iTunes, managed to sell over 450,000 albums and 2 million songs worldwide.
But in striking a deal to land the Beatles, Apple reportedly had to make monetary concessions not typically, if ever, granted to other artists. According to industry sources cited by Reuters,
iTunes is paying the Beatles’ royalties from digital download sales in the United States directly to the band’s company, Apple Corps, and is paying the songwriting mechanical royalties directly to Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which controls most of the Beatles’ song catalog.
That suggests the royalty split could be more lucrative for the Beatles than it would be under the typical provisions of a standard artist contract, which treat digital downloads as a retail sale.