As it has been customary since they were a group 50 years ago, The Beatles are throwing out another set of music this holiday season but instead, it’s nothing brand new in any way. The Beatles had resisted getting their music into the digital realm but considering a wealth of today’s music sales comes from MP3 sales, it was only a matter of time before they and Universal were able to offer the band’s music for sale digitally. There are a few Beatles compilations that are iTunes-only, as there isn’t a vinyl companion for it (not officially at least). Starting tomorrow, December 24th, the music of The Beatles will be heading to various streaming websites, including Spotify, Tidal, Rhapsody, Amazon Prime Music, Google Play and a few others, inclduing, oddly enough, Apple Music. If you know the history between The Beatles/Apple Records and Apple Computer, you’ll know why I said “oddly enough” but let’s move forward.
One website had said the band’s FULL discography will be made available for streaming in each time zone on Thursday, 12:01am. While the time may be correct, what’s being available for streaming is not correct. What Universal will be offering are the band’s 13 remastered albums, which means this is what they released themselves. These are the original British editions so if you’re looking for Something New, Yesterday & Today, or Beatles VI, you’re not going to get it that way but you’re able to make your own playlists to create your own versions. Outside of the remastered albums, The Beatles/Universal will be offering four compilations, including 1962-1966, 1967-1970, Past Masters, and 1.
Considering we’re very close to Christmas, I had hoped The Beatles would finally give The Beatles Christmas Album an official release. However, if they were going to release it digitally, they would also have to release it on vinyl and CD to please fans of hard copy. The Beatles Christmas Album put together all of the records the group gave to members of their fan club, so there was one record each between 1963-1969. When the band announced their split in 1970, it meant no more Christmas messages so they ended the year by putting together all of the messages and releasing it in one place. Like the flexi-discs, The Beatles Christmas Album was made available only for fan club members but due to it being Beatles-related, it was counterfeited and has been circulating for the last 45 years. You can now find the album as bootlegs, which now feature outtakes from the Christmas message recording sessions. To me, The Beatles Christmas Album is a perfect example of being able to hear the group’s slow demise, as each message was a way for all four to gather and be festive while giving fan club members a happy message. By 1968 and the release of The Beatles (a/k/a “The White Album”), they were more than happy to record messages separately from one another. When they released their last Christmas record in 1969, you could sense the tension as no one intermingled with one another. They were ready to move on and would with an incredible amount of music they made throughout the 1970’s. Unless there will be an additional surprise tomorrow, The Beatles Christmas Album will not be officially released, if it ever will. Considering there are only two surviving members left, one hopes it will be soon.
One question that was brought up is “who exactly is the audience for the streaming music by The Beatles?” One website claims those who heavily stream as their primary means of listening to music are between 15 and 20: teenagers and young people preparing for college or heading there. Can The Beatles crack that audience, and are younger audiences really into The Beatles? It’s one thing to say their music is timeless but when I was a kid, I certainly didn’t want to listen to music from the 1920’s or 1930’s. I do now but the point is, The Beatles were a phenomenon 50 years ago. There are older audiences in Spotify and Google Play but are they active? Are these websites and apps going to welcome older audiences who may want to hear The Beatles and other artists they prefer? I don’t think grandma wants to hear Demi Lovato or Meek Mill. We’ll find out to see how the streaming realm accepts The Beatles and if a huge amount of Beatles streams will change things. The music industry is more than happy to be the biggest listening booth in the world because it makes them money. Not that The Beatles need any more money due to low sales, people still buy vinyl, CD’s, cassettes, and MP3’s on a regular basis but if it leads to heavy streaming, I’m certain a lot of artists who have held back their catalogs will be the next ones to cash in on the new means of income.