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Suddenly, The Beatles Are Not The Way They Used To Be
December 24, 2015  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment

Forty-five years after they broke up, the Beatles have joined the main stream.
As of 12:01 a.m. Christmas Eve, the 224 songs recorded by the Fab Four in the 1960s finally will be available on nine major music streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon Prime Music, Tidal, Deezer, Microsoft Groove, Napster/Rhapsody and Slacker Radio.
That makes Beatles songs available pretty much everywhere in the streaming world – and it’s about time, since not being able to offer the Beatles is the music streaming business equivalent of Mozart having to write symphonies without violins.
Even the timing of the announcement has a lovely little echo for Beatles fans, who back in the 1960s were treated to a Christmas message from the group every year.

A short mashup clip was released as part of the announcement, a charming 35-second throwback to the 2006 soundtrack of the Cirque de Soleil show Love, which daringly cut up and spliced together the Beatles cannon into new and surprising combinations.

And the streaming decision also follows this year's re-release of their 2000 "1" collection of number one hits which assembles all those songs with their corresponding music videos and films which have all been digitally restored and remastered. (And that release also had its own lovingly engineered mashup.)

One doesn’t have to have belonged to a 1965 Beatles fan club, however, to say that this 2015 deal ensures that all Beatles fans will be simply having a wonderful Christmastime. Even if Paul McCartney didn’t write that line until after he’d left the Beatles and gone solo.
As the long lag between the inception of streaming and the inclusion of the Beatles suggests, getting here has been a lengthy, complicated process in which some of the discussions doubtless involved compensation.
Beatles songs, most significantly the ones written by McCartney and the late John Lennon, are now owned by Universal Music Group. That anyone else owns them has been a sore point with McCartney for many years, though he will gradually start regaining the rights as the 56-year copyright term begins expiring later this decade.
In the interim, the byword for Beatles catalog owners all along has been caution. Their recordings weren’t available on Apple’s iTunes until 2010, making the Beatles one of the last passengers aboard that ship as well.
These days, as a growing number of younger listeners turn to streaming for their music, it’s almost essential for an artist to be available there – despite a few selective and well-publicized exceptions like Taylor Swift pulling her songs from Spotify’s free service and Adele thus far keeping her new “25” album off streaming services altogether.
But in general, artists want and need to be there, and the Beatles are among the relative handful of artists whose presence also could promote streaming itself to some listeners who previously just hadn’t gotten there.
The addition of Beatles music won’t revolutionize streaming services, or add a radical new dimension. Rather, it will enhance what’s already there, giving it a touch of added elegance.
There’s already a lot of good wine on the table. This adds a classic, because 45 years after their last record was released, the Beatles remain embedded in the fabric of good popular music.
Only a handful of artists were foolish enough to try to sound just like the Beatles, but whole armies of artists listened and learned and passed it down. Even artists who would say they barely remember the Beatles owe to the Beatles – just as, yes, the Beatles themselves owed to dozens of artists, from Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly to Arthur Alexander.  
Notwithstanding the acclaim the Beatles received for “Sgt. Pepper” and other discs that pushed the recording-tech envelope of the time, their durability lies more in the way they handled the basics.
No offense to “Revolution Number 9” or “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” but they’re way less listenable today than “She Loves You,” “Penny Lane,” “Help” or “The Long and Winding Road,” records with a sound that sticks in your head forever.
Like Irving Berlin or the Gershwins or Lerner and Loewe or Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lennon and McCartney did a seemingly simple thing so much better than a thousand contemporaries who nominally were doing the same simple thing.
Kids brought their music home and within a couple of spins, parents and grandparents were saying, “Hey, y’know, that’s not so bad.” Try pulling that trick off sometime.
To anyone who lived through the ‘60s, the Beatles will always evoke the era. To someone born 40 years later, “In My Life” is just pleasing to the ears.
It’s always been the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll compliment to say someone made great radio records. The Beatles made great radio records.  
Now they also make great streaming records.

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ray james
Looking forward to the years with the beatles there music will always stand the test of time!
Dec 27, 2015   |  Reply
Dec 28, 2015
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