Happy holidays from the Beatles: As of 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 24, the band’s music will finally be available on streaming services worldwide.
The group announced the news in a 35-second video featuring a medley of its biggest hits that kicks off to the sound of the 1963 single “She Loves You.” An accompanying news release simply said: “Happy Crimble, with love from us to you.”
However, the surviving members of the group, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with Universal Music Group, which controls the band’s recorded music, made no statements other than the fact that the Beatles’ catalog — 13 original albums and four compilations — will now be playable on nine subscription streaming music services: Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon Prime Music, Tidal, Deezer, Microsoft Groove, Napster/Rhapsody and Slacker Radio.
Known as singular holdouts in the digital era, the Beatles, the best-selling group of all time, resisted offering its songs on iTunes for more than seven years before coming to an agreement with Apple in 2010. “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,” Mr. McCartney said at the time. The band sold 450,000 albums and two million individual songs in its first week on the service, according to Apple.
Now, streaming is the industry sea change too big to ignore. This month, Warner Music Group, one of the so-called big three label groups, said streaming revenue exceeded download revenue for the year. And other classic rock resisters have come around recently: AC/DC started streaming its music this summer, following Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd in 2013. (The Beatles were already available on Pandora, the Internet radio service, since it does not offer on-demand songs; a court decision recently raised the royalty rate for labels and performers on those services, known as pureplays. The band members’ solo material is also widely available.)
Modern artists, however, have started to resist streaming in certain rarefied cases. Taylor Swift, who helped persuade Apple Music to pay royalties during its free-trial period when she protested publicly, has not made her albums available on streaming services with a free tier, like Spotify, while Adele has so far kept her blockbuster “25” off streaming services altogether. The Beatles’ music will be available on the free and premium versions of services that have both.