Apple Corp. is expected to announce the move – which we consider could be the thin end of a wedge suggesting deployment of a broader digital strategy by the band – at 2pm today.
The move means music from the band will be made available to Rock Band 2 (set to ship November 21) players on a paid for download basis. It’s significant because it represents one of the earliest digital avatars on the part of arguably the most seminal UK act.
The Beatles have seemingly remained shy of embracing a digital strategy – over years now multiple reports have suggested the surviving members of the band and the families of those now gone have been grappling toward a true digital play.
Apple’s iTunes has frequently been suggested to be preparing to make music from the act available imminently, but all such claims have proved no more than hot air.
Moving to work with MTV, Viacom, EA and others involved in the Rock Band game franchise suggests part of the bands reluctance to join in online has been concerns at the lack of a truly secure walled garden to protect tracks from file-sharing.
Obviously, tracks downloaded within the Rock Band gaming environment offer such controls. The irony is clear, however, in that with music from the band not yet legitimately available through online music services, Beatles tracks are among the most frequently downloaded through file-sharing networks – downloads Apple Corps. doesn’t see a penny for.
iTunes is a serious target in the new Guitar Hero business plan, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said in July: “I don’t think there have been a lot of credible alternatives to iTunes, but Guitar Hero certainly has that potential.” At that time rumours of the Beatles deal were also in circulation, with Distorted Loop reporting the band to be closing in on a deal with a video games company way back in June.