Beatlemania re-surfaces on eve of Apple event

September 9, 2009

Britain’s Sky News caused a bit of a stir on the blogosphere on Tuesday after it cited John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, as saying the Beatles back catalog was finally going for sale on iTunes: seemingly confirming a longstanding rumor that had gained momentum ahead of a widely watched Sept 9 Apple music-entertainment event.

But the report by the 24-hour news service, spotted by 9to5Mac and TechCrunch, among others, was stricken off the Sky News Web site hours later and discredited by a numner of other media outlets including Cnet. In response to Reuters’ queries, EMI, which owns the master recordings, sent us this from Ernesto Schmitt, EMI’s global catalog president:

“Conversations between Apple and EMI are ongoing and we look forward to the day when we can make the music available digitally. But it’s not tomorrow,” Schmitt said in comments first made to the Financial Times. Apple declined to comment.

Mind you, the arrival of the Fab Four on the world’s most popular online music sales portal will be no less than a seminal event. Hence the unrelenting speculation from Apple’s legions of rabid fans who stand rapt at the consumer electronics giant’s every move, and the intense interest from the band’s own not-unimpressive cohort of faithful followers.

On Sept 9, the same day Apple is expected to unveil a new line-up of iPods with digital cameras (with potentially master showman and CEO Steve Jobs set to make his first public appearance since taking leave in January to undergo a liver transplant), “The Beatles:Rock Band” video game will debut for sale from North America to Australia.

The game’s debut will mark the Fab Four’s first leap into the world of digiral music. And their launch on iTunes — currently held up by fears of digital piracy, among other issues — may indeed soon follow.

Just perhaps not on Wednesday.

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