The Beatles are on iTunes. I for one am glad of that. I won't succumb to the hype and buy their entire collection immediately but it is good to know that one of the most influential and iconic bands in the history of pop music has finally arrived in what is arguably the most popular music store on the planet.
But not everyone is amused. Mark Mulligan, an analyst at research firm Forrester, wrote in his blog that it wasn't that big a deal. "The fact that securing the content of a band old enough to be most young music fans' grandfathers is a sad reflection of the state of the digital music market," he wrote. "The digital music market needs new music products, not yesteryear's hits repackaged," he clarified. I disagree. It is a sad reflection on the state of license holders and their narrow views that it took this long in the first place.
A couple of years ago I went to a Paul McCartney concert. It was a birthday present from my sister and I looked forward to it. I have never been a Beatles fan, being just a few years too young to have first hand experience of the hype and just old enough to have seen it all falling apart in less brilliant solo careers, or so my hard rock and post-punk self thought. The Beatles are a band who I came to appreciate much later in life. Also recognising then the achievements of some of the solo work of Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
What struck me about the Paul McCartney concert was the generation spanning audience. Literally every age group from toddler to geriatric was there and pretty evenly spread, percentage wise. And more importantly: they were all enjoying themselves. Mark Mulligan should think again. What he says means that old things are not to be regarded as worth anything. So let us burn all Rembrandts, Van Goghs and lets replace the Mona Lisa with a digital art installation by an art school student. No more Beethoven, Mahler, Mozart, in digital form on digital distribution platforms. Let's not make e-books of Shakespeare, Dickens, George, Austen. They're all old hat and according to Mark Mulligan's argument they should be replaced by bright young stars. Whose work of course is all of it brilliant and worth looking at, listening to or reading. I know, let's replace the Beatles with Susan Boyle.