The Beatles Will Be Streaming by Christmas

One December 24th, you might be streaming the Beatles.  That’s according to a report from Billboard, which is pointing to Beatles availability on one or more streaming services by Christmas.  The move would end one of the biggest, high-profile holdouts from streaming music services like Spotify and Apple Music.

On the latter, there could be an exclusive in the cards for Apple and its just-launched Apple Music.  Indeed, Apple has a considerable war chest and is looking to capitalize on its early traction.  According to whisper numbers, Apple Music is already past 8 million paying subscribers and possibly approaching the 10 million-mark.  That is a number that is rapidly approaching Spotify’s 20-plus million tally.


There’s also coniderable precedence for an Apple exclusive.  Steve Jobs was a die-hard Beatles fan, and the group finally arrived on the iTunes Store in 2010 after years of drawn-out, fruitless negotiations.  That worked out well, with Apple blasting the group’s presence through advertising and promotions, and sparking a big Beatles sales spike.

More recently, Apple scored an iTunes exclusive on the digital version of 1+, a just-released video compilation that follows the wildly-successful Beatles greatest hits package, 1.

Now, with downloads eroding and streaming surging, the timing could be right for a streaming debut.  Outside of signing exclusives and one-off bonus payments, streaming payouts are paltry compared to downloads, so it makes financial sense for groups like the Beatles to stay on the sidelines.


But it may not make sense from a legacy standpoint.  As time mercilessly marches on, groups like the Beatles face the risk of eroding interest as generations pass.  Indeed, a quick look at Google Trends shows a serious erosion already, with newer generations (and a newer generations of parents) caring less about some legendary band from the 60s.

But perhaps the greatest way to kill a legacy is to kill access to it.  Older people buys CDs and downloads; many younger people do not.  And the stark reality for the younger demographic is this: if the Beatles aren’t on streaming platforms, they might as well not exist.


18 Responses

  1. Casey

    History is about to repeat itself. And artists/labels are screwing themselves yet again in the process because of their greed.

    Selling Apple major exclusives like The Beatles, 1989, etc. is just going to help rebuild the Apple monopoly on music. Giving a monopoly on downloads to one of the most controlling and manipulative companies on the planet was one of the worst ideas the music industry ever had. And it is about to happen again on streaming. You can thank Taylor Swift and The Beatles catalog owners for caring more about money than their fellow artists and the overall health of the music industry in general.

    • Troglite

      I think you raise a great point!

      I also think that Spotify deserves some of the credit for Apple gaining traction with many of the artists you mentioned. IMHO, trying to force every artist into the same release strategy (no windowing) was a large business mistake that also exposed a rather shocking level of arrogance within Spotify’s executive team. Sure, Spotify will conform now that there is genuine competition but the belief that they know better than the musicians who use their service seems to persist.

    • Name2

      And it is about to happen again on streaming.

      I have not seen a single report – not one – indicating that Beatle-streaming is only going to be available on one and only one service come Xmas Eve.. Several articles suggest that all “major” streaming companies are in on this

      So… what are you talking about?

      (Captcha: 1-1=0)

    • HardtoCatchBreathLaughingSoMuch

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA – A music industry person is calling Apple “one of the most controlling and manipulative companies on the planet” It music industry execs that forced Apple’s hand on this… so funny

  2. superduper

    “And the stark reality for the younger demographic is this: if the Beatles aren’t on streaming platforms, they might as well not exist.”

    Is it REALLY this bad? Ugh I hate this industry.

    • superduper

      I mean I don’t think thtat’s actually totally true. It just CAN’T be.

      • GGG

        I mean, I think yes and no. Obviously people will probably always hear about the Beatles, but there’s a generation growing up now that will essentially never pay for recorded music outside whatever special edition things labels put out and the occasional vinyl.

        • superduper

          I think that saying that the new generation will never pay for music is not necessarily true. What if streaming fails? It has so far failed the music industry and if it stays that way (which I think it will), I would not be surprised if more and more artists started to pull their catalogues from streaming services. Of course you may use that weak argument of ‘Well, then everybody will pirate it!’ but you have to remember that streaming is not the solution to piracy; it is an alternative to piracy, but so is buying music. The real solution is to enforce it more through better legal protection.

          So, imagine if you will that a massive amount of artists start to pull their catalogues from streaming services because they are fed up with the low royalty rates and unpredictability of potential success that they are burdened with by streaming their music. Also imagine that piracy becomes more strongly enforced by law enforcement. Then, will you say that this generation will never buy music? Because I think they will.

          • GGG

            Well, your argument is built upon a premise I just don’t see happening, so it’s hard to even argue this in any constructive way from my end haha. If you want to argue Spotify might fail or Apple Music might fail, sure, but I just simply don’t see how streaming in some sense will go way. Pretty much every part of life that remotely involves some digital aspect is moving towards some sort of cloud based whatever. I back my phone up to my iCloud while listening to music on Spotify and update documents on Google Drive then email it to my bands, then go watch a movie on Netflix or TV on Hulu. 90% of our lives is just floating in the ether, for better or for worse, and

            I think such a monumental shift in culture would have to happen for streaming to go away that I can’t even really entertain the option. Again, if the services available now fail, I just don’t see how nothing else would up in it’s place. Or just YouTube continuing to reign supreme at the very least. Also, I think the only reason there’s not some massively popular pirate streaming service now is because of the legal ones. They’re filling that demand. If they went away, you’d see one in a week. If there’s one thing commenters on this site continually underestimate, it’s highly skilled programmers with too much time on their hands, some white knight complex, and a desire to stick it to the man.

          • superduper

            You may say that my argument is based on premise but it is not. It may seem like everything is moving in that direction in the short-term but there are major fundamental problems with streaming music, problems that that are so deep that they are ingrained within the very core of the business model that threaten it’s long-term goals. Streaming is an unsustainable business model and its demise may happen sooner than you think; though, even if it doesn’t happen very soon – it may not even happen within the next five years – I think it will happen eventually. As for piracy, you make a baseless claim that everyone will resort to piracy and that it is uncontrollable, but piracy is not as uncontrollable as you may think. It’s hard to get rid of but with the right technology and the right attitude it should be relatively easy to manage. For every white knight is a law enforcement agent. Also, if music is cheap (not $18, but more like $8) than people would not be as motivated to pirate music because they are not spending as much. The point is, it’s not the format, it’s the business model and I do not like the look of it and it’s future prospects.

          • GGG

            Unfortunately, I don’t think you can single out one piece of the entertainment pie and think people will act differently for it. You stream movies/TV online, you download/stream video games online, you store documents and all your phone data in a cloud. Almost everything you access on a screen now exists in a non-physical form, and for the most part you pay for access, be it entertainment or storage, like DropBox. This idea that if Spotify fails the world at large will just forget about that and go back to buying digital copies of stuff is a bit far-fetched. Spotify fails, YouTube will just get even stronger.

            Also, ignoring the fact I never said everyone will just pirate again, the argument that something popular would arise is not remotely baseless at all. It’s pretty much literally why the industry is in the place it is now. Piracy killed us.

            Lastly, I think the more philosophical issue that people on here often ignore is that people now love to listen to and make a ton of music. You can see it in the popularity of festival undercards in the US today. You can see it in the live sector strengths. You can see it in the endless sharing of music across social media. Paul can post articles about people not listening to full albums and make it seem like people all suck as music fans now, but as I said in that comment section, if someone listens to an hour of music, who the hell cares if it’s one album or 10 songs from 10 different artists? Music is music in the grand scheme of things. And my point here is that we don’t live in a world where there’s 5K releases a year. There’s probably more than that every single day. And people want to hear a lot of it. Make everyone pay $8 for an album (and get rid of piracy) and it’ll severely cut down on access. Streaming payouts may suck, but there’s a lot of good that comes from streaming, and as someone with actual skin in the game, I see this first hand. Most artists will not abandon this idea, as you insinuated in the other post.

          • superduper

            I don’t think you get it. If artists do not make money there will be no streaming in the future. Blaming the labels is a lazy cop-out. I get it; the labels are partially to blame for this mess, but the fact remains that streaming is a TERRIBLE business model. I don’t care whether or not you stream or whether or not the Beatles stream: the fact is that streaming is a bubble. Everybody likes to say that streaming is the future because it is becoming more popular now, but how much faith can you really put into it? Also, how accurate do you think that predictions of the ‘future’ really are? Remember when iPods and digital downloads were the future of the music industry? Well I guess it’s not true anymore. Maybe in the future, we will be talking about streaming the same way as digital downloads ten years ago. Maybe we will be saying “remember when streaming was supposed to be the future?” Because so far it doesn’t look like it.

    • superduper

      I mean I don’t think that it’s actually totally true. It just CAN’T be.

  3. PiratesWinLOL

    Led Zeppelin
    John Lennon
    Pink Floyd
    .. and now Beatles

    is there anyone left actually boycutting streaming these days?

  4. Name2

    Official list of services is out:

    Apple Music
    Microsoft’s Groove
    Google Play
    Amazon Prime

    And I have only one question:

    “Microsoft’s Groove”?