The Beatles are finally coming to Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iTunes.
The legendary quartet that has skirted digital distribution -- legally -- is finally going to cash in on the Web-based revolution. All 13 of the band's original studio albums are now available on the country's leading digital music marketplace.
Apple wasn't shy about dropping hints yesterday, promoting this morning's announcement with a clues-laden teaser on the Apple.com homepage.
The landing page read:
Tomorrow is just another day.
That you'll never forget.
Check back here tomorrow for an exciting announcement from iTunes.
There were also four clocks on the bottom, with the 7 a.m. time in California translated into the equivalent time zones in New York, London, and 12 a.m. in Tokyo.
The one clue that gave it away -- and since I haven't read it anywhere else, I may as well toss that out there -- is that any die-hard head-banger will recognize Midnight in Tokyo -- the time on the final clock -- as a song by Y&T, a band that named itself after The Beatles' Yesterday and Today mix album.
Yesterday? Today? Tomorrow is just another day.
Are The Beatles fashionably late or the perfect catalyst to breathe new life into digital music?
The niche could definitely use some excitement. Apple isn't selling as many iPods as it used to, though one can argue that hot-selling iPhones and even iPads double as media players.
The one thing that is undeniable is that digital music sales have stalled -- if not peaked. Warner Music Group (NYSE: WMG ) posted a 10% sequential decline in digital music sales during the second quarter, a trend that will likely continue when it delivers its third-quarter financials tomorrow.
Apple needs to do more.
This summer's debut of Ping could have made music sharing more social, but Apple's new iTunes feature has received mixed reviews.
The only logical move left would be to roll out a subscription service, but that's not a slam-dunk either. Best Buy's (NYSE: BBY ) Napster and Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Zune Pass have been at it for years with limited success.
Obviously, the arrival of The Beatles will help in the near term. Just as Viacom (NYSE: VIA ) and Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS ) banked on the Fab Four to breathe new life into their Rock Band video game franchise, the hope here is that baby boomers who perhaps never embraced iTunes or digital music in general may be motivated to check it all out now that arguably the greatest band of their generation is on board.
It is too late, but better late than never.
Will you be buying Beatles tracks from iTunes? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.