It was a long and winding road, but the Beatles have finally gone digital.
Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the estates of the late George Harrison and John Lennon have given the greenlight for the iPod-hawking Apple to sell Beatles music for download on iTunes, marking the first time the group's catalog will be available online.
Roll over Beethoven, indeed!
The Beatles have been among the last holdouts to make the transition to digital sales, joining Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin in bowing to the inevitable (and leaving Garth Brooks, AC/DC, Kid Rock and Bob Seger as the biggest iTunes no-shows).
The deal Apple cinched with the Beatles' similarly named Apple Corps and label EMI had to be approved by all four band members or their heirs, who were hesitant to make the move for fear of undercutting sales of Beatles tunes on CD which, 40 years after their breakup, remain stronger than ever. Only Eminem has sold more albums in the U.S. this decade.
However, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, a die-hard Beatles fan, had made it his mission ever since iTunes launched seven years ago to lobby the Fab Four to give the Web a chance, particularly since their avid fan base had been clamoring for it. And it worked.
"We're really excited to bring the Beatles' music to iTunes," said McCartney. "It's fantastic to see the songs we originally released on vinyl receive as much love in the digital world as they did the first time around."
"I am particularly glad to no longer be asked when the Beatles are coming to iTunes," added Ringo. "At last, if you want it—you can get it now—The Beatles from Liverpool to now! Peace and Love, Ringo."
So starting today, all 13 of the band's classic remastered studio albums with iTunes LPs, among them Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road, the two-volume Past Masters compilation and the iconic Red and Blue collections are now available for purchase and download via iTunes as either albums or individual songs ($12.99 for albums, $19.99 for double albums and $1.29 per each individual song).
Additionally, Beatlemaniacs can buy a special digital Beatles Box Set featuring the Live at the Washington Coliseum 1964 concert film, which documents the quartet's very first gig in the U.S. That retails for $149 and Netizens can also stream and view the show from their iTunes for free until the end of this year.