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The Beatles on iTunes: What does it mean for the remaining holdouts?

The Beatles make a (belated) debut on Apple iTunes. But acts such as Kid Rock, Garth Brooks, and AC/DC remain proud iTunes refuseniks.

By Matthew Shaer / November 16, 2010

The Beatles, pictured here in 1964, are finally coming to Apple iTunes.

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It's a done deal: The Beatles are coming to iTunes. As of this morning, 16 albums worth of Beatles music was available on Apple's online marketplace, along with a $150 box set, comprising every studio record released by the Fab Four. The agreement appears to be the result of protracted wrangling between EMI, the label that houses The Beatles, and reps for Apple.

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The question now is whether the decision to bring The Beatles to iTunes will provide some impetus to the other holdouts – a group that includes AC/DC, Kid Rock, Garth Brooks, and Bob Seger. Speaking to the UK Telegraph, AC/DC guitarist Angus Young maintained that iTunes facilitates a music-listening experience at odds with the AC/DC aesthetic.

"We don't make singles, we make albums," Young said. "If we were on iTunes, we know a certain percentage of people would only download two or three songs from the album – and we don't think that represents us musically." Garth Brooks agrees. He told the Telegraph that he had been trying to persuade Apple to lock entire albums, effectively making sales of individual tracks impossible.

"They truly think that they're saving music" Brooks said of Apple. "I looked at them right across the table with all the love in the world and told them they were killing it. Until we get album-only (downloads), then they are not a true retailer for my stuff, and you won't see my stuff on there."

It's a noble stand. But in the humble opinion of this blogger, it's a bit of a losing argument – the music experience in 2010 is inherently a fractured one.

We rarely listen to music in big chunks anymore. Instead, we download tracks (legally or otherwise); we listen on streaming sites such as Pandora or Last.fm; or we fire up YouTube, and watch the video. Not that Garth Brooks and AC/DC are exactly hurting for sales, but by holding out on iTunes, they're denying themselves access to a vast and growing market.

And they're swimming against the zeitgeist.

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