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A Day in the Life of a Deal

Published on November 17, 2010
by Ethan Smith

After years of litigation and ill will, it took two men just a couple of hours to hammer out the basic terms that would finally bring the Beatles’ music to the iTunes Store.

Beatles songs are finally available in Apple’s iTunes store. But ATD’s Peter Kafka says that iTunes is all about apps these days, while digital music sales have flattened out–and even the Fab Four may have a hard time changing that.

The deal was outlined by Jeff Jones, chief executive of the Beatles’ corporate entity, Apple Corps Ltd., and Roger Faxon, CEO of EMI Group Ltd., which owns and distributes the band’s recordings. The meeting took place at EMI’s London headquarters this past July 14, less than a month after Mr. Faxon took the reins at EMI.

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.

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