The Beatles have done it yet again, making headlines with the long-awaited, inevitable deal with Apple to finally offer their music on iTunes. And just in case you think that Gen X/Y/Z doesn't care or that the Boomers don't need the music they already have on CD, the Fabs zoomed onto the iTunes album chart at number 6 (Abbey Road), 8 (The White Album), 9 (Sgt Pepper's), 13 (a $149 box set), 17 (the 'Blue' album), 18 (the 'Red' album), 19 (Rubber Soul), 20 (Magical Mystery Tour, my fave), 21 (Revolver), 25 (Let It Be), 27 (A Hard Day's Night), 28 (Please Please Me), 30 (Help!)... You get the idea. And mind you, this is only after it's gone on sale about 12 hours ago. Not too shabby.
It's quite a coup as iTunes is the only place that offers the Fabs digitally now, even though millions of people have ripped their CD's into MP3 files. For new Fabs fans, Apple's the place to go if they want to go the authorized route though there's no doubt that with time, they'll sign deals with other services (even though Apple is sly enough to offer each song for $1.29 each, which they know that fans will pay up for and no doubt sweetened the deal for the Fabs). Amazon is trying to cash in on the hype without being involved by offering Beatles albums on their main music page for discounts.
Another interesting twist is that Apple loves mystery and drama, not revealing what their big announcement about this until right now, even though places like Billboard and Wall Street Journal leaked the news beforehand. As you see from the iTunes album chart, the company got the recognition and headlines they wanted, not to mention the sales. Girl Talk just did something similar with his latest album, also offering it online with no warning and getting enough recognition to freeze up his label's website for a while (of course, since the hundreds of samples there aren't cleared, he's offering it for free).
As for the Fabs, you gotta admire their biz savvy. After making bundles of money for recently remastering their catalog, the digital offering was the logical next step and amazingly, they garner piles of additional money for the same catalog yet again in a tiny amount of time. Rest assured, they'll find other ways to re-package and re-sell their catalog in new configurations and formats. And don't be surprised if they make money on it again and again, even long after Macca and Ringo are gone.
Follow-up: Wall Street Journal has a good story about how EMI helped to make the Apple deal happen.