Apple, iTunes Grab Paul McCartney Digital Exclusives

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Paul McCartney has tapped the iTunes Store to exclusively position his solo catalog online, an expected move.

The exclusive includes McCartney’s upcoming release, Memory Almost Full, carried by the Starbucks Hear Music label.  It also covers the entire post-Beatles McCartney catalog, part of a larger digitization play announced by Capitol Records on Monday.  The deeper catalog will appear later this month, though fans can now pre-order the upcoming release.  “Paul McCartney is one of the greatest musicians of all time, and we’re extremely excited to offer his first digitally-distributed album on iTunes,” said Apple chief Steve Jobs.  After pre-purchasing the 13-track set, fans in North America will receive a bonus “Dance Tonight” music video and a download of the lead single, “Ever Present Past”.  Buyers in other countries will receive an acoustic version of  “Dance Tonight”.  In all cases, the larger album will be delivered in June.

For Starbucks, the Memory release is the first from its stepped-up Hear Music label initiative, a collaborative venture involving Concord Music Group.  Mobile aspects are also expected, though for now, that mostly falls outside of the Apple purview.  For McCartney, the iTunes and Capitol alliances represent a groundbreaking step into digital formats, and a prequel to larger digitization efforts by the Beatles.  Meanwhile, a number of details remain unresolved, including those related to pricing and protections.  EMI-owned Capitol did not indicate whether its McCartney catalog would be positioned as DRM-free downloads, and Starbucks is only offering its catalog with protections.  That could create pricing and format inconsistencies within the broader collection, depending on upcoming decisions by Capitol. The McCartney catalog includes twenty-five albums, part of a prolific solo career.