Rumors have swirled countless times that the Beatles' music would finally go on sale at online music stores, and it has finally happened — albeit in a strange way.
BlueBeat.com is selling the entire Beatles catalog, including recently-released remastered albums, for the low price of 25 cents per MP3. Oh, and it also streams the Beatles and every other song on the site for free, an unlimited number of times.
The idea that the various stakeholders involved with the Beatles would license an unheard-of music store to sell the band's music at such a steep discount seems highly unlikely. After being tipped off by MusicAlly (subscription required), we're looking into this.
So far, neither BlueBeat, BlueBeat's "partner" BaseBeat, or Media Rights Technologies, which actually owns both BlueBeat and BaseBeat, has responded. The company is located in Santa Cruz, California.
A spokeswoman for the Beatles' label, Apple Corp, Ltd., told Wired.com she doesn't think BlueBeat has any sort of permission to be doing this. EMI, which with Apple Corp distributes the band's music, has yet to respond but we don't imagine they'll be too pleased about this either.
Regardless, we were able to purchase all 17 songs on the remastered version of Abbey Road for $4.55 (including a 30 cent service charge) using a Paypal account, and the songs appeared in our Music folder as advertised. The MP3s are 160 Kbps, and the file's song information tags list "2009 BlueBeat.com" as the copyright holder.
The Beatles catalog is still not available in the iTunes music store, Amazon MP3, or other services (aside from BlueBeat). Paul McCartney claimed last November that the hold-up was due to a dispute between Apple Corp and EMI.
"They [EMI] want something we're not prepared to give them," said McCartney. "Hey, sounds like the music business. It's between EMI and The Beatles. What else is new."
Most likely, given Apple Corp's initial response and the general unlikelihood that Media Rights Technologies has permission to sell these songs, the California-based company can probably expect some sort of legal action, or at the very least, a cease and desist letter.
For now, the Beatles' music and plenty of other tracks are available for unlimited, on-demand free streaming, as well as 25-cent MP3 downloads on Bluebeat.com.