At a time when news headlines are dominated by disturbing stories about terrorism, social strife, and ugly politics, the world just found reason to rejoice: the Beatles are finally streaming their music.
Everyone is reporting the announcement about the Beatles making their beloved catalog available to Apple Music, Deezer, Google Play, Microsoft Groove, Amazon Prime, Rhapsody, Spotify, Slacker and Tidal starting December 24 at 12:01 a.m. local time. The New York Times, TechCrunch, The Wall Street Journal, and Venture Beat are among the many news media jumping all over the news.
But why are the Beatles streaming?
After all, the Beatles don’t need streaming to continue succeeding commercially. People buy Beatles albums even as albums continue to suffer a drastic sales decline in the digital era. The Beatles anthology 1, released in November 2000, still sells 1,000 copies a week (amounting to 12 million copies sold in the United States to date), even though “there’s really no reason for anyone who owns all the records to get this too,” as Allmusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote. (1 was also just re-released as a special edition featuring a Blu-ray surround-sound format in November 2015.) And through a relationship with Apple formed in 2010, the music of the Fab Four has continued to sell in digital format even as downloading gives way to streaming.
I believe the answer comes down to legacy. Especially Paul McCartney’s.