Thanks to modern technology, the Fab Four are taking the world by storm once again – and while money still can't buy you love, it can buy you a piece of the companies who are reviving BeatleMania.
Ironically, the video game world, which hadn't even been imagined when the Beatles were topping the charts, is leading the charge this time around. "The Beatles: Rock Band," hitting shelves today, probably won't be the year's best selling title, but it should easily make the top 10.
Analysts expect the game, developed by Harmonix (a division of Viacom's MTV Games) and published by Electronic Arts, to sell more than 2 million copies within one month. And many industry observers believe "The Beatles: Rock Band" could single-handedly revive the music genre, which is down nearly 50 percent this year.
Versions of the game are beinwg made for all of the major gaming systems. Sony's PlayStation will likely have the smallest market share, as it has the smallest installed base. The game hits the sweet spot for Nintendo Wii owners, who are typically older than those of other video game systems.
Microsoft, though, was able to lure Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as the spouses of the late John Lennon and George Harrison, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, onto its stage during its E3 press conference this year – which many Beatles fans could view as an endorsement of that system.
Launching New CDs
The Beatles resurgence is hardly limited to the video game arena. EMI Music is issuing 14 digitally remastered Beatles albums today as well. The new albums (well, CDs technically) are the result of four years of work by EMI, which copied the original master tapes to digital, then painstakingly removed imperfections. Each album will retail for just under $19 – and a complete boxed set will sell for $260.
EMI, which owns the sound recordings, is private, but Sony owns a 50 percent stake in Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which holds the publishing rights. And five of the remastered albums are currently in Amazon's Top 10 selling CDs. (The boxed set quickly sold out.) It's a nice double hit for Sony that should more than make up for the PS3's likely lower sell-through of the game.
While today will see the release of a Beatles game and the remastered CDs, it's unlikely the group will make their debut on iTunes. Many had speculated the timing of today's press conference by Apple foreshadowed the two parties had finally worked out their differences.
A statement late Monday by EMI, though, put the kibosh on that.
The delay makes sense – why would EMI release individual tracks for $1.29 when it's trying to sell remastered CDs at the same time. But reading between the lines, it sounds like EMI, Apple and The Beatles are getting closer to a deal, so it's more a matter of when than if.
If that sort of speculative investing seems a little too safe, there's always Disney .
Word came in mid-August that the studio was brokering a rights deal that would give it (and director Robert Zemeckis) the rights to 16 original Beatles songs for a 3-D digital remake of "Yellow Submarine," the Beatles' 1968 psychedelic animated film.
The studio reportedly hopes to have the film ready in time to premiere around the 2012 Summer Olympics. Variety reports Disney may also be eyeing a Broadway musical based around the project as well.
It's a risky remake, with plenty of deals that have to happen in order for it to move forward in the first place. If it strikes a chord it could pay off big. But, so far, fans have pleaded with the company to "Let It Be".