Streaming services win big as they finally land the Beatles

Steven Loeb · December 23, 2015 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/4240

This a major coup, as some of the world's biggest artists have started to boycott streaming services

(Updated with comment from Slacker, Tidal, Deezer and Pandora)

2015 was an interesting year for music streaming. As services became more ubiquitous, the tension with artists seemed to boil over, with a few very big names essentially banning their music from being available on those services. It showed the tension between the technology and the people affected by it.

Yet, there's no stopping the rise of streaming. and there's no better exemplifier of that than the last, and bigger, coup for music streaming companies: the Beatles.

The Beatles music is officially coming to a slew of streaming services, starting on Christmas eve, the band announced on its website on Wednesday. That includes its entire catalog of 13 studio albums, plus four collections.

The music will be available on all of the major services: Apple Music, Deezer, Google Play, Microsoft Groove, Amazon Prime, Rhapsody, Spotify, Slacker and Tidal.

Actually there's one missing. Did you catch it? It's Pandora, and that is because that company doesn’t do direct deals with music owners. Since it's a radio service, it can stream any song with a copyright as long as it pays a fee. So it was actually the one company that was already streaming Beatles music, but now it will be available on demand for the first time.

"As Beatles fans ourselves, it’s exciting to see The Beatles’ music being made more widely available in digital formats. Their music has been available on Pandora for our radio listeners for years and continues to be extremely popular. Nearly 19 million stations have been created and listeners have tuned in to more than 3.86 billion songs to date. This is a great opportunity for more listeners to discover their music," Pandora said in a statement provided to VatorNews.

"Deezer is honored to stream the Beatles to 180 countries around the world for the first time.  Bringing the most influential and popular act in history to the first truly global music service in the world is an early present for all music lovers no matter where they live," said Tyler Goldman, Deezer’s CEO of North America.

To celebrate this news, Rhapsody announced that has created a special editorial experience to take listeners through the legendary history of The Beatles. That includes more than a dozen hand-curated playlists and articles, such as "29 Things You Didn't Know About The Beatles,"  as well as a slideshow showcasing a pictorial history of The Beatles.

The company is promising to introduce more content and coverage centered on The Beatles over the next few months.

"The Beatles are the most iconic band in music history and their catalog is the #1 request from our subscribers around the world," Ethan Rudin, Chief Financial Officer, Rhapsody International, said in a statement. "Today, we're able to fulfill that request just in time for families around the world to enjoy together over the holidays." 

"The Beatles not only changed the music business forever, but they moved the broader culture. They have represented a touchstone showcasing the power of music for every generation from 1964 forward. For Slacker, being able to curate and provide context around The Beatles, is validation that streaming in general, and Slacker's brand of hand-touched programming specifically, isn't just the future, it is very much the present," Jack Isquith, SVP of Content & Programming at Slacker Radio, told VatorNews.

“It’s a very exciting time for the Music Industry, and TIDAL is honored to bring our members the entirety of The Beatles’ catalog! It’s especially exciting to share the legendary tracks in HiFi to our subscribers," said, Tim Riley, SVP of Artist & Label relations at Tidal.

The Beatles coming to streaming is a really big deal. Even the band is taking this very seriously, doing a slow rollout, complete with a globe so you can see where it is currently available at any given time.

"The Beatles streaming will be LIVE at 00:01 AM YOUR TIME and you can track its progress around the world, from east to west, on the globe here at thebeatles.com," it says.

But this is an even bigger deal for the streaming services themselves. Getting this music is the ultimate sign that, yes, streaming music is here to stay, whether you like it or not.

Part of that is because the band that has, historically, been extremely resistant to change. Remember what a big damn deal it was when the Beatles finally let their music onto the iTunes store in 2010? 

Getting the Beatles always seems to be the white whale for whatever the new format is, and that is because, frankly, the Beatles don't really need to do anything they don't want to. Remember, this is the band that hasn't put out an album of new material in 45 years (no, the Anthology albums don't count) and yet is still the top selling artist of all time.

So obviously the Beatles are not hurting for money, but they see a potential revenue stream in streaming, and that is obviously a really important thing for streaming services to point to, especially as major artists have begun to boycott them.

The two most famous to do this were Taylor Swift and, more recently, Adele. Swift made the bigger splash when she pulled all of her music, both past and present, from Spotify in November, following an op-ed she wrote in the Wall Street Journal in July, where she accused streaming services of not valuing artists.

"Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It's my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album's price point is. I hope they don't underestimate themselves or undervalue their art," she wrote.

Adele, meanwhile, refused to put her most recent album, "25," on any streaming services. She later clarified why that is, telling Time that she thinks of streaming as "disposable" and that " "music should be an event."

"I don't use streaming,” she said. “I buy my music. I download it, and I buy a physical [copy] just to make up for the fact that someone else somewhere isn't."

Guess which service was allowed to stream Adele's music though. Yup, Pandora

Plenty of other artists have called out streaming services, in sometimes pretty vulgar fashion, as they often do. Earlier this year, Jimmy Buffy flat out asked Spotify CEO Daniel Ek for a raise. Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke called the service, "the last desperate fart of a dying corpse." And members of Pink Floyd have accused Pandora of skimping out on royalties. 

Yet, with the Beatles now giving their stamp of approval, it seems like it will be that much more difficult for these artists to resist the inevitable.

(Image source: pbs.org)

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