Beatles for Sale on Net?

Their catalog may soon be downloadable

June 17, 2004 12:00 AM ET

The Beatles catalog -- the holy grail of legal downloadable music -- may be coming to a Web site near you. Until now, the Beatles have refused to sell their music online. But sources at more than one online music store confirm that the band is now shopping the catalog -- at an asking price of more than $10 million.

"It would be a huge coup," says Michelle Santosuosso, vice president of artist and label relations at Napster, which plans to make a bid. "The more these franchise artists make this music available legally, the better chance the music industry has at taking back the market share from illegal p-to-p acquisition." Currently, artists including AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Bob Seger don't allow their music to be downloaded.

Jeanne Meyer, a spokeswoman for EMI, which owns the masters recordings of the Beatles catalog, says that there have been ongoing discussions with the Beatles for years about licensing their music digitally. "We would be over the moon if it finally happened," says Meyer. A spokesman for the Beatles did not return calls.

Because the price tag is so high, some speculate that the winner will be Microsoft's music store, which will launch later this year. "It would be a black eye for Apple if someone else got the Beatles," says Josh Bernoff, a music analyst at Forrester Research. "But they already have seventy percent of the market, so they don't need it."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

More Song Stories entries »