On the other end of the spectrum, you have teens and twenty-somethings that have an idea who The Beatles were, and are, and know that they are historically relevant by what everyone and everything around them tells them, but have never had a chance to actually listen to the music themselves, aside from what is pumped out on popular radio.
Can you imagine all of those high school freshmen who will discover and have their minds blown with their first listen of Sgt. Peppers or The White Album? (Now that, in my opinion makes this a worthwhile move, dollar signs aside). Then you have the folks who fall somewhere in the middle, who embrace change and want to see and more importantly, hear, the music of The Beatles in any capacity they can, by anyone who will listen.
This was even a topic that was debated by my buddies and I today, on our regular email chain, and thus caused me to scrap a few other ideas in lieu of this one, as it got me thinking. While the inevitable and underlying truth to this move for Apple is the bottom line, it still appears to be a landmark victory for them in landing the world’s biggest band. Whether the remaining notable holdouts — AC/DC and Kid Rock, to name a few — follow suit by getting in bed with iTunes remains to be seen. But again, the question remains, what does this change? Who is this move focused on? And the question mostly everyone is seemingly asking: Who doesn’t have all of this music already, and would want to spend more money on something they already own? The answer, I believe, lies further down that meets the eye or ear.
Whether we like it or not we live in a digital age, an age that is constantly changing. Where I personally feel this decision will eventually pay off is not only monetarily for Apple – The Beatles still remain as one of the highest selling artists year in and year out 39 years after they broke up, and ranked third with 3.3 million units sold last year – but also with younger kids, who seemingly do everything online these day. (Just look at Facebook’s attempt at an internal email application this week, the “Gmail Killer,” which again is targeted at this demographic).
A huge advantage — for some — is the convenience of being able to purchase single songs from the Apple store. While full albums are available for purchase, today’s generation is most certainly more ADD than that of our parents and grandparents. That’s yet another reason why I feel this move will pay off in spades: the majority of The Beatles singles clock in at just a few, pop-filled minutes, again perfect for the attention-lacking youngsters.
On the flip side of that argument in favor of single songs — an iTunes argument, not just exclusive to The Beatles today — many perfectionists will argue that the true value, meaning and essence of an artists work is only fully understood within the context of a complete album (greatest hits collections excluded, of course). While a teenager may become enraptured by the production effects of a song like A Day in the Life, will they really get the full meaning of that song and its placement without owning or having heard Sgt. Peppers before its almighty crash and crescendo? An interesting argument, indeed…
Even the iconic Paul McCartney seems to fall into the middle ground. “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,” he said. Lets’ wait and see what the next 50 years holds for The Beatles, aside for surely more success. The question simply asks with whom will that success continue to come from? Will it be the same masses of fans, or entirely new ones altogether? I invite you to share your thoughts with us. Thanks!