Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

When Does Amazon and Everyone Else Get the Beatles? Good Question.

So you can buy the Beatles on iTunes. When will you be able to buy the band’s music from other digital retail outlets?

Good question, says EMI Music, the label that distributes the band’s music.

Apple has exclusive digital rights for the Beatles “into 2011,” says spokesman Dylan Jones, and he notes that the exclusivity doesn’t expire on the first of January. But he confirms that the exclusivity does indeed have an expiration date.

So when that date comes, we should expect to see the Beatles everywhere else you can get music online, right? Namely Amazon, and the subscription services that rent music by the month, like Spotify, Rhapsody and Microsoft’s Zune? Or Google, if and when it launches its music service?

“That’s a question, isn’t it,” Jones says, and doesn’t offer more.

Couple of theories here:

  • The easiest explanation is that the Beatles music will follow the path of other digital exclusives, and become widely available after Apple gets its run.
  • It’s also possible that Apple and the Beatles will renew their exclusive before it expires. That hasn’t happened before, but if Steve Jobs really, really wants to make it work, I guess he could.
  • The most intriguing possibility: The Beatles leave iTunes once their deal ends–and don’t come back to digital again. Seems silly, but big traditional media loves “windowing” their content, and I suppose someone might convince the band this would be a clever way to go–show up, make a splash, walk away and then try it again down the road, like a band that’s always going on a farewell tour. Hope not!

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