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Let It Be: Beatles join music streaming revolution

🕐 2 min read

AMSTERDAM – Years of waiting are over for Beatles fans wanting to listen to the Fab Four’s music on streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify.

Beatles songs will be available around the world at one minute past midnight (local time) Christmas Eve on nine streaming services including Apple, Spotify, Deezer and Google Play.

The band’s record company, Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, said in a statement announcing the move Wednesday that all major Beatles albums will be included.

The British band had been the most significant holdout in resisting streaming, which can generate less revenue for artists than album sales. With consumers increasingly opting to stream music rather than purchase, other best-selling bands such as Led Zeppelin have gradually signed on in a bid to broaden their fan base. The Beatles also refused to sell digital downloads for years, with the group’s catalog appearing on Apple’s iTunes only in 2010.

“The Beatles catalogue has always been late to the party,” Mark Mulligan, an analyst for London-based MIDiA Research, said by phone. “But the Beatles are a unique proposition. They can afford to set their owns terms, their own timetable.”

Streaming represents a growth market for the otherwise struggling record industry, which has been in worldwide decline for almost 20 years. The services have emerged as a major source of revenue in the years since 2011, when they accounted for about 10 percent of sales. In the first half of 2015, online streaming grew to 32 percent of all music sales in the U.S., making up for shrinking purchases of CDs and digital singles, according to a report from the Recording Industry Association of America.

Even though artists such as Taylor Swift and Adele have withheld new music from streaming sites, the services’ popularity has soared as consumers are drawn to the ease of use and instant access to millions of songs without having to own the collection. Spotify, for instance, doubled its subscribers from May 2014 to June 2015, and has more than 75 million users worldwide.

A Britain-based representative for Universal Music Group declined to comment beyond the statement.

The other streaming services to include Beatles in the catalogs are Microsoft Groove, Napster, Amazon Prime Music, Slacker Radio and Tidal.

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