The Beatles organization has always been very, very cautious when it comes to digital music. It took them almost five years after the introduction of the compact disc in late 1982 before any Beatles album was issued on CD. You couldn’t buy any Beatles on iTunes until late 2010–and iTunes debuted in January 2001. And although streaming services started seeping into the public consciousness almost ten years ago, the Beatles have so far declined to participate.
But that might be coming to an end. Billboard reports that the Beatles could come to streaming sites as soon as Christmas Eve.
The Beatles, the most beloved rock band in history — and one of the most persistent holdouts in the digital age of music listening — is set to finally arrive on streaming services, according to Billboardsources with knowledge of the negotiations.
While Billboard has received conflicting reports on the timing of the Fab Four’s arrival to streaming platforms, there’s a strong indication that fans will be able to hear “Hey Jude” next Thursday, Christmas Eve. (Keep an eye out for whether Liverpool’s most famous sons unseat Justin Bieber’sstreaming record.)
Chatter around a six month “exclusive” for a known streaming service reportedly began to trickle out of Apple Records in 2014, according to one source, but fizzled out. This past January, former Universal Music Group digital executive Rob Wells restarted discussions for the massive get, with papers reportedly having been signed in mid-September. It’s unknown which specific services have secured the deal, though sources strongly suggest that most, if not all, will have access to the band’s catalog of studio albums next week. (The Beatles are already available on Pandora because of how “non-demand” web radio is licensed.)
MBW’s own sources told us over the weekend that a Christmas launch has been planned by Apple Records and Universal Music Group since the summer.
At one stage, discussions took place over the possibility of an Apple Music exclusive, but these talks appear to have died off: insiders now suggest The Beatles music will be on at least Spotify and Apple Music.
If true, the arrival of The Beatles on Spotify comes at a very interesting time for the platform.
Recent whispers out of Daniel Ek’s company suggested that it was beginning to cave over the idea of some artists being allowed to put their music exclusively on its ‘premium’ tier.
It’s fair to say that music doesn’t get much more premium than The Beatles.
If this all does come to pass on Thursday, I wouldn’t expect that the entire Beatles catalogue would be available right away. But if even a single song shows up, we’ll know where things are headed.