updated 01:00 am EDT, Thu October 30, 2008
Rock Band gets Beatles
The Beatles are allegedly making their first stride into digital licensing, according to inside information obtained by The Wall Street Journal, which says Apple Corps is considering releasing tracks for Rock Band. Apple Corps has been notorious for keeping the prized, history-making albums away from digital formats, most famously in response to repeated conflicts with Apple Inc, over the usage of the iconic fruit logos both companies use.
The move, should it prove true, would be momentous, since it demonstrates priorities for the big players in the industry, opting to release the tracks in a video game before opening them to electronic distribution. It also represents the music industry's desire to pick up sagging sales, which it habitually blames on music piracy. This can be tricky, however, since the target age group for the Beatles' music is not necessarily the same as individuals who typically own gaming consoles.
It is also important to note that this would give Rock Band a gigantic leg-up on the Guitar Hero franchise, which it is constantly fighting with over music rights and exclusives. The Guitar Hero series has made three times the revenue of Rock Band, but is currently competing evenly with the Rock Band series. Guitar Hero has also existed for two years longer, with seven titles to date, versus Rock Band's two.
While Viacom does not explicitly recognize Rock Band revenue, during the game's first half-year of existence, the company's media networks saw $639 million in ancillary revenue, an increase of 67 percent from the year-ago quarter.
Apple Corps has been experiencing conflicts with Apple Inc. over its logo usage, with the wounds opened fresh in recent years, as Apple introduced – and succeeded with – the iPod, muddying the waters of its agreement to stay out of the music industry. While still far from resolved, Sir Paul McCartney said he expects The Beatles music to hit iTunes before the end of this year.