Why The Beatles On iTunes Really Isn't A Big Deal

[Disclaimer: I’m going to spend as many (i.e., few) words writing about this development as it deserves.]

So finally Apple gets the Beatles catalogue Steve Jobs has been pining for.

Thank goodness that is out of the way; now we can focus on important developments.

The fact that securing the content of a band old enough to be most young music fans’ grandfathers (and some) is a sad reflection of the state of the digital music market.

Yes, it will be a success. Yes, we’ll have numerous Beatle #1’s (probably including at Christmas).  But that’s just further depressing evidence of the old geezer skew of digital music buyers.

The digital music market (and the young music fans that record labels desperately need to get engaged) needs new music products, not yesteryear’s hits repackaged.

So, congratulations Steve on finally getting your Beatles catalogue; now can you please turn your attention to innovating your digital music services.


For those of you who have come here to defend the fab four's musical legacy I am reposting my comment from deep in the midst of the comment torrent...


To be clear...

...my blog post is not about the Beatles, it is about the digital music market. (Some of you did pick up on this).

For what it's worth, I love the Beatles. I was brought up on them. My dad used to be in a band at the same time and even played in the Cavern. My first music experiences were leafing through my dad's complete Beatles vinyl collection (singles and albums). My mum is from Liverpool and still has a 'get well soon' card signed by the fab four. I used to play Beatles covers in my school band. The Beatles defined modern pop music and Lennon and McCartney are unsurpassed as a songwriting duo. Etc etc etc ad infinitum.

But that IS NOT what this is about!! This is about the fact that getting the Beatles onto iTunes has been the biggest, longest running saga in the digital music space for far too long. It really is not a big deal for the digital music space.

This blog is focused on discussions about digital content business models. It's not Rolling Stone or Billlboard. I'm not a music critic, I'm a content business analyst.

Thank you all for your comments and it's great to see that the Beatles still trigger such passion and emotion in people. And so they should. Which is why, as I said in my original post, these downloads will sell. They'll even bring EMI some welcome revenue.

But that's of little relevance to the long term viability of the digital music market.

Like it or loathe it, kids prefer Pirate Bay to iTunes. And unless that changes the music industry will change too. Much for the worse. A demographic time bomb is ticking. Unless a new wave of relevant music products is brought to market that engage young music fans the market will shrink to such a stage that the likelihood of any another Beatles making it beyond their Pete Best stage, let along their Hamburg stage are small.

So, fantastic to hear so many people like the Beatles just like I do, but this is still not news of lasting importance for the digital music business.


Mm, 'kay. Thanks, Mr

Mm, 'kay. Thanks, Mr 'Expert'.

Yeah! Gotta innovate. Gotta


Gotta innovate. Gotta have new cool stuff! YEAH!

Can't enjoy the finest music created in the last 200 years. No. Everything has got to be NEW and WHIZZY and YOUNG. You got to read wired? Got to be new got to be better. Innovate innovate. Engage.

Soulless dullard.

Soulless dullard. Well, I was

Soulless dullard. Well, I was going to be nicer but that about sums it up.

I don't get why anyone would

I don't get why anyone would think this is a big deal, even Beatles fans. It's certainly not worthy of a "big announcement" and has become a "big anticlimax". You can buy these albums for £8 on Amazon, although iTunes will no doubt be successful at charging £11. Is that really the price of convenience, that we'll pay £3 more for something we can have now, in not quite full quality, without any physical product, in a ready-to-transfer-to-iPod-now format?! Will we really buy anything just because Apple tells us to? Just as well iTunes has a good name, because it is unbelievably poor value.

"[Disclaimer: I’m going to

"[Disclaimer: I’m going to spend as much (i.e. few) words writing about this development as it deserves]


The fact that securing the content of a band old enough to be most young music fans’ grandfathers (and some) is a sad reflection of the state of the digital music market."

How about adding words to this sentence, until it makes sense.

"The digital music market (and the young music fans record labels' desperately need to get engaged) need new music products, not yesteryear’s hits repackaged."

Most new music is already on iTunes. What are you talking about?

Hm. Young (inexperienced) person obviously talking

So. The fact that it's old makes it of little or no value, does it? Well, Mr Mulligan I think that you have a lot to learn. I'm sure that you will find that many 'old geezers' (and 'geezeresses') like myself buy digital music accross a very wide spectrum, from Palestrina (look him up on Wikipedia), through Beethoven (ditto) , Miles Davis (etc), Check Berry (got the messgae?), Beatles, ELP, Elbow, Goldie, Florence & Machine etc etc etc.

Expand you mind, look oustide your oh so trendy comfort zone, you might enjoy it ...

'Souless Dullard?' Yes, I concur.

I agree with the comment that

I agree with the comment that its some of the finest music ever created. But I just personally don't want to hear it again. Im on the fence with this. But I am slightly leaning towards the thinking that this didn't really deserve this much atention. There's far too much good music out now which is just being ignored or doesn't have the privilege of being on iTunes. The playing field is definitely not level.

These records will be remastered for every future format for ever and ever.

Beatles on iTunes

Er... I think Mark Mulligan is deluding himself. Has he listened to popular music of late? It's dull, derivative and plastic through and through. Popular music is now nothing more than a twitching body on a life support machine, which is why there is absolutely no new and innovative music anymore.
I know plenty of young people who love the music of the Beatles. Has Mark had a peek at their Facebook fan page? It's full of teenagers and people in their early 20's.
And does anyone else agree that Mark's comments are outrageously ageist? Someone should report him for his bigotry.

Mulligan's a mess...

What a self-righteous tosser! Mark, this is the same generation that's into such mindless bile & over-glorified karaoke singers like "X-factor" & "American Idol". Instead of moaning about some of the greatest music that ever came from the past, do something to help make the music of today listenable.

Beatles on iTunes

I refer to your comment: "The digital music market needs new music products, not yesteryear's hits repackaged," he added.
The Beatles are more than just yesteryears hits, their music has stood the test of time, much like Elgar, Mahler, Bach, Rachmaninov, Rossini etc. the list is endless.
It's a bloody good job that the music of the past great composer's is not treated as yesteryears hits, and is available digitally.
Indeed, if you had seen Howard Goodall's series about Beatles music, you might have a chance of understanding.
PS. Check out The Enid (no don't bother, you wouldn't get it).

Somebody with an obvious lack

Somebody with an obvious lack of understanding of the importance of The Beatles music doesn't deserve to have an opinion on them, much less be quoted in a BBC News article.

By the by, sarcastic remarks don't add much weight your argument. They only make you sound childish.

Am I the only one that agrees?

I love the Beatles. I also agree about 9000% with Mark. This is not big news. I am a beatles fan, and so I already have their music. I'm also already using iTunes. I don't see how Apple's announcement can be important to anyone but the rare Beatles Fan without any Beatles music, but buys all their other music from iTunes. How many people like that exist in the world? 4?

The Beatles on iTunes is a good thing, but it's hardly worth mentioning, and should absolutely take a back door to actually engaging the millions of kids out there getting their music from Torrents.

Stop the knee jerk defense of the Beatles and realize that this article is about iTunes and business, not the Beatles and their songs.

From what I've seen Scott, I

From what I've seen Scott, I think you are pretty well alone . Most of my Beatles material is on vinyl (yes, I did buy it when it came out). I relish the opportunity of downloading it legally, without the scratches of my much loved but overplayed records. And the millions of kids using Torrents? They should learn to obey the law. No, this news isn't big, but it's worth a mention on the BBC web site.
And the real answer will be the number of downloads - let's see if more than 4 people do it.

But wouldn't people in your

But wouldn't people in your position buy the CD from Amazon at a lower price than iTunes instead and then (albeit technically illegally, but hardly immorally) rip it to their MP3 player?

I don't follow your logic. So

I don't follow your logic. So nothing that's available from Amazon should be downloadable from iTunes? Apart from from the ability to select individual tracks, it's much more convenient to download straight onto my Mac. But I do agree that it's hardly immoral to transfer tracks to an mp3 player for my own listening pleasure. I certainly do!

For me it's more a case of

For me it's more a case of the CD version costing less and being a technically superior reproduction (44.1 KHz 16 bit audio) than the compressed, lossy version being sold on iTunes?

Sure you have to go to the trouble of ripping it, but for me that's a price worth paying, and at least I can choose the type of compression and I get the inlay card etc.

Amazon has The White Album 2009 remaster for £12.99 - on iTunes it costs £17.99.

"The digital music market

"The digital music market (and the young music fans record labels' desperately need to get engaged) need new music products, not yesteryear’s hits repackaged."

They can't do both? Are they running out of disk space?

My daughter loves the

My daughter loves the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Abba, Wham!, Katy Perry and Lily Allen. Good music will always sell, and great music will always last.

She does also like Justin Bieber - she's 8, by the way.

Beatles on iTunes

Mr. Mulligan . . . the Beatles transcend all generations. I am a Beatle fan and I am 58. My teenage children are fans as well. Do a little research before you share your ignorant comments.

Digital music services / market?

So are these releases more "digital" than the digital releases we already have on CD? Or is this some sort of new "digital" which uses two's and three's rather than zeroes and one's?


I am not sure I agree that it is a flight of fancy of an old bloke (Steve Jobs). It may be another way to attract the older generations to using itunes, appealing to those who might not be its natural users normally.

Easy to sit on the sidelines and denigrate but it may turn out ot be a smart move.

Booooring. Sad state of

Booooring. Sad state of music? You've answered yourself there. Music ain't nowhere near as good as it was in the 60's. But don't beat yourself up about it.

There's some half decent acts around today, but I generally prefer to think that their own quality of music should speak for itself, and not have to bash 'past masters' to try and elevate inferior (whether slightly or bigtime) bands above their true level.

The old geezer comment was good for a laugh too. You sir, are a douche.

Age of music is no indicator of relevance

So what if these albums are 40-50 years old? Brilliant music is timeless. What will you advocate next? The banning of Beethoven from electronic music stores? Your blog makes about as much sense as your 3rd sentence:

The fact that securing the content of a band old enough to be most young music fans’ grandfathers (and some) is a sad reflection of the state of the digital music market.

Oh the irony...

The attitude Forrester is parroting in this blog post (that music somehow has a best-before date) is older than the Beatles -- I got hammered with it throughout school.

It of course comes from the record companies, via the radio DJs they bribed to push their line; if people become too fond of their record collection, they might keep listening to their existing ones instead of going out and buying new ones, and we can't have that, can we? That's what it's about -- not music, but profit; and you have to be really stupid to fall for it. Like most con-tricks, it works and continues to work because so many people are really stupid.

However, there's always been those who are smart enough to realise that what makes music great is what it is, not when it was first released; and the companies have tuned in to the fact that there's money to be made from this approach as well.

Is the music Forrester prefers so good that people will still be listening to it in 40 years' time? Or will it be lucky if it isn't forgotten in 40 days? I suspect the latter...

Say what?

Wow, you are obviously not very informed when it comes to music. I guess you like all the current chart music, Black Eyed Peas, Girls Aloud, McFly, The Saturdays? Perhaps James Blunt or The Wanted float your boat more? Have you ever stopped to think that maybe the reason there is such media attention is that people still care about The Beatles all these years on? That is a lot more than can be said about the above mentioned "music" who will no doubt be forgotten in 5 years time, never mind 40+.

Maybe you should go back to watching The X Factor, seems like that could be more up your street.

Crikey, you're a sensitive

Crikey, you're a sensitive lot! I don't think Mark was criticising the Beatles - he was pointing out that it really isn't a big deal that a band gets uploaded to iTunes. And speaking as a musician, I totally agree with his point about innovation - iTunes and its rivals are strangling the music industry in some ways, and some new ways of doing things could actually benefit new acts (both good and bad).


Got any suggestions? I have been waiting for a good solution since the late last century.
The consumer wants music and he will get it the easiest way he can. I am still waiting for the new great solution. Yes there is talk about subscription based solutions linked to radio and whatever else. So far nothing makes me want to leave a simple to use iTunes store. Subscription? please, no one wants that. Pay as you need is a much better model and as soon as they got rid of the DRM, iTunes became viable.
They will remain on top till something better comes along and they we will move to that, but if the content is not there, then the means to get them is meaningless.
Now itunes just added some new and very important content and I think that is pretty news worthy.

Beatles on iTunes

This is so funny. A man who serves Consumer Product Strategy Professionals but doesn't bother doing any research into the on-going popularity of the group who virtually invented popular music (and who have sold over 30 million albums in the last ten years). Oh my word, Mark, what an idiotic man you are! How eye-poppingly UNprofessional. It's little wonder the world is in such a state.
For god's sake, do some research first before leaving such uneducated, bigoted comments. And please try and curb your ageism, because it isn't going to do you an favours.


Is this really worthy of news coverage and "expert" commentary?

Who actually cares? I've had the Beatles back catalogue on MP3 for a decade. The fact it is now available on iTunes and Steve Jobs is all excited about it doesn't really warrant commentary.

Maybe analysts should comment on everything Mr Jobs gets excited about? Like banoffee pie and the feeling of rubber on one's bare skin?

I find it fascinating that

I find it fascinating that you don't recognize the impact The Beatles have had on the very same new music for which you pine. In a mere seven years, The Beatles albums reflect the very evolution of Rock-and-Roll. The Beatles don't detract from the development of younger music artists; they inspire them to new heights. Such an argument is as inane as saying that Beethoven contributed nothing to later composers, Duke Ellington to jazz, Bob Dylan to folk and protest music, etc. Young music is built on the foundations of the greats who came before. To say they are outdated and undeserving of continued appreciation and rediscovery by new generations is asinine.

Trying to be controversial just to be heard??!!

What a completely ridiculous point to make. The Beatles are agrguably one of the only bands whose music will stand the test of time, no matter whether we're 10 or 100 years down the track. I grew up on listening to them and still do all the time at 32, so I'm sure that a new generation will no doubt do the same.

And the fact that this is "news" isn't a sad reflection of the digital music market; just a sad reflection of the fact that hardly any of the bands today can produce music that holds a candle to any Lennon/McCartney collaborations in terms of creativity.

Go and stick Sgt Peppers on and have another think.....


Mark...you're a moron!

The Beatles have hit the younger generation time and time again...including me when I was 17 years old (13 years ago), and with the success of Beatles Rockband last year!

So when you don't have a clue about something, do us a favour and keep YOUR opinions to yourself ok?

No you're right, it would be

No you're right, it would be much better if iTunes was filled with manufactured pop artists that are so abundant nowadays.

Popular music, and ergo everything on iTunes wouldn't even be how it was today without the influence of The Beatles, who are without doubt the greatest band ever.

It's not worthy of headline news as it has made, granted, but to say this isn't a victory for music itself is slander. Hopefully the young music fans you refer to will finally be able to appreciate real music!




Not big news?

The biggest rock band of all time comes to largest retailer of music and it's not big business news? I suspect that in a year from now when we see how many Beatles songs have sold on the iTunes store we'll see how big a deal this is.

Beatles on i tunes

Mr Mulligan perhaps you are not aware so let me educate you, and this may come as a surprize but no everyone using i tunes or any digital platform is under the age of a 'grandfather' whatever age that might be. (Without of course taking into account the huge place They have in the history of music.)

The Beatles

Soulless Dullard is spot on


Rather strange point of view. If there is demand, there should be supply. Isn't that the point of 'consumers' and 'products'.

And because you're probably over 40, does that mean you're worth listening to?


Demand and supply! Interesting notion! Worth listening to- proberly not- since when has experience been worth listening to!(Thats a wider discussion)

One things for sure there always a supply of over 40's. Something to remember perhaps.

Of course there are many others who have not been given the apple seal of approval perhaps that should be the discussion. And why have they been allowed to get into such a position?

The late arrival of the

The late arrival of the Beatles to itunes and the subsequent media fuss has no bearing whatsoever on the state or quality of modern music; those who frequently decry the current pop scene as "plastic" and "hollow" would do well to remember that since the early days of pop as we know it, pop charts have *always* been full of derivative rubbish with the occasional moment of genius.

The pop charts never have, and never will, at any one point in time, be something that doesn't make people cringe, but yet with the benefit of hindsight and a lovely pair of rose tinted specs, s**t somehow becomes champagne through the selective filtering out of the worst of the worst offenders from the past.

It's not that young music fans need new music products as such; we're at a time when we've never had so much choice and in many ways this mirrors what we've seen with the advent of cable and satellite TV. The share and volume of sales dwindles as people are given more ways to consume, legally or illegally and the industry response to further fragment record releases (special edition, itunes edition, SUPER SPECIAL FANBOY edition) isn't helping matters either.

And of course, most importantly, itunes is a bit rubbish anyway.

Disconnect between me and the geezers

(My sibject is intentionally inflammatory, although several people have already used geezer to refer to themselves. And at 40, some would say I fit that category.)

I had to read quite a few comments to see where all the traffic was coming from. Apparently there was an article on BBC about the addition of the Beatle's catalog to ITunes and Mark was quoted.

Conversely, I came to Mark's blog (actually, checked for his latest post in my RSS reader) specifically to learn what Apple's big ITunes announcement was. Even after the Beatle's news leaked yesterday, I was hoping for something more, too. Like streaming my music collection from the cloud, without the loss of my painstakingly curated library (artists, ratings, playlists, etc) which MOG, Rhapsody, et al do not currently do.

And there in lies the disconnect between the majority of the posters and those like me.

To respond to one of the comments: When wishing for some new music product ("It's for the kids." (see Hudsucker Proxy)) Mark isn't:

1) Wishing there was more Britney Spears readily available for download

or 2) Equating the Beatle's catalog with what that new product might be.

Pay-per-track digital downloads are one product, whethet they be Britney or the Beatles. Streaming - advertising supported or subscription model - is another that most are familiar with. There are others, some more experimental (and not likely backed by the big companies). None of them combined are replacing lost CD revenues.

Mark's professional (and I suspect personal) interest is in the technologies and business models that could sustain a thriving and diverse music industry. I suspect he's also interested in technologies that benefit the music lover (discovering new music; rediscovering the music already in your collection; enjoying your music collection when, where, and how you want, ...)

Adding one more band to the Itunes store, one whose music could already be purchased on CD & ripped at higher quality or downloaded illicitly for free - ain't it.

Mark, thanks for keeping me abreast of what interests me (and doesn't interest me) as a digital consumer.

Enjoy the traffic.



Really? The Beatles? That was it?

Beatles on iTunes

I suppose it is just possible that the attraction of the Beatles and hence some rejoicing at the availability their material on iTunes, inheres in the timeless quality of their music, rather than their specific appeal to those now devoid of their critical faculties and their own teeth.
Certainly timelessness will never be a burden to those whose talent to amuse consists in 'analysing industries' and 'blogging' about it. As a miner once told D.H.Lawrence: 'There's them's as do and there's them's as scribble about it'.

Well, I suppose this

Well, I suppose this insignificant, inconsequential individual is entitled to his own opinion. However, it does say something about the state of "Consumer Product
Strategists" that the individuals working in that field are unable to muster a cogent argument, let alone present it convincingly and grammatically.

Now, what was it Douglas Adams wrote about those working in such professions?

So what exactly is your own

So what exactly is your own argument then apart from showing how condescending you can be while not actually adding anything of value yourself?

And why do so many feel they should come and dish out personal insults on a blog they don't really understand the context or purpose of, just because it has the misfortune of having being linked to by the BBC?

Mark serves Consumer Product

Mark serves Consumer Product Strategy Professionals. He is a leading expert on music and digital media.

in other words he has bluffed his way to where he is today, (wherever that may be)
because he knows f-all about music..
the noise that people have the audacity to call music today is an insult to people who lived thought the 60s and 70s, complete and utter dross. there are not many out there nowadays who have the right to call themselves musicians. also everybody sounds the same, all new supposed guitar bands cant really play guitars they just stroke down (or up) as fast as they can with a big plectrum, and hold down two strings and then move their hand to three different frets and back again and make the most horrible noise thats possible, with some idiot standing in the middle shaking while he mumbles 3 or 4 inaudible words and repeats the same words about 10 times in the forlorn hope that somebody may actually work out what hes saying..
anywho hope i don't have to tell you again....

I was horrified when I came

I was horrified when I came across this blog. How can he whinge, moan and complain about the biggest music band ever being finally brought onto iTunes? He calls for new music to be introduced yet so many bands these days would always reference The Beatles as their inspiration for getting into music in the first place. The Beatles are one of if not the most successful band in the world. They dominated the world at that time (check youtube videos of them at Shea Stadium to see my point) and their music still rings true and affects people today as much as it did when they were first released. I for one still get the same goosebumps when I listen to songs such as Yesterday, Come Together, The Ballad of John & Yoko.

Just incase anyone wishes to call me one of the grandparents, I am 21 years old and teh Beatles for me are the most influential music band that have and probably will ever affect my entire life.

Listen to the lyrics of their songs, so clever, so subtle and so true, unlike todays music where people can just repeat 3 words over and over again and have a hit! It is much easier these days to have a successful song due to technology like the internet as it becomes much more available much more quickly. In 2 seconds I could listen to any song that I want to. When the Beatles first came out, some people wouldn't have heard their songs years after they were released, that makes their music ever more special.

I sincerely doubt and hope that there will ever be a more successful, universally loved and dynamic band in the world ever.

Beatle Fans are Grandfathers

A year ago, a sizable music survey was conducted in the United States. Several thousand young people (aged 16 - 24) were asked to name their all time favourite pop/rock musicians and bands. Having only died earlier that year, Michael Jackson came second. The Beatles were in first place.
Yes, first place. And yes, the people in the survey were aged between 16 and 24 years old. Hardly what I'd call grandfathers!
For someone who should have their finger on the pulse and for someone who works in research, Mark Mulligan has made himself look like a complete idiot in just a few short paragraphs.
Well done, Mark.

The Beatles music is worth

The Beatles music is worth millions and millions of pounds, one of if not the biggest music band of all time. I think all generation including mine will be downloading and listening to their music for many years to come. There even teaching beatles in school these days. Still relevant today !!

Music, my way, according to me, for me

Yes, I fully agree. The new digital medium must not be used for reaching anyone other those interested in the latest "new" but useless artists such as those on X Factor. Quality doesn't matter. All we want is "newness". Mozart, Beethoven, Robert Johnson, Beatles, Led Zeppelin? Pah! I want "new". As long as it was composed and recorded in the last 5 minutes then that will only do for me. And when the next aural medium is invented we must prevent all previous music from being conveyed through it. Only the sounds as new as the technology must be accommodated. I know The Beatles were the biggest band of all time and produced the most popular music of all time but we must be facist about this and ignore what people want and only what our hero Mark Mulligan insists is good for us.