The Beatles Are Finally Streaming: Why Now?

The Beatles
Photo Credit: Getty Images

In a surprising but long overdue move, The Beatles performed a Christmas miracle, releasing their 14-album primary catalog on streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. On December 24th, many fans awoke to find they could now listen to their favorite Beatles song on their platform of choice.

From “Please, Please Me” to “Let it Be,” the musical history of The Beatles is now at our very fingertips. But what took them so long?

The Beatles have always waited to transition to a new medium since the move from tape to CD in the 80s. Beatles CDs were not available until 1987, when tapes started phasing out, and their music  wasn’t available for digital download on iTunes until 2010, nearly seven years after iTunes began.

According to Nielsen SoundScan, which measures a myriad of music consumption data, CD sales have declined over 15% in the last year alone. Sales hover around 140-150 million units in the US currently in comparison to nearly 700 million units nearly ten years ago.

Additionally, streaming music is now almost on par with digital downloads with the first half of 2015 seeing $1.028 billion in revenue compared to downloads’ haul of $1.268 billion. Pair that with a Christmas release and you have the makings of a huge payload.

Former EMI and Apple music exec Alex Luke put it this way, “It is the absolute perfect moment. Digital-music services boom on Christmas Day and the week after, due to the new hardware under the Christmas tree — the iPads and phones and laptops. You have everyone hitting the digital services en masse. They picked the perfect window to maximize the return.”

Seeing as there was nearly a 20% increase in streaming revenue within the last year, sites like Spotify and Apple Music are set to surpass iTunes and Google Play as the platform of choice in consuming music.

The Beatles music has already been streamed by over 3.87 million users on Spotify alone.

As there has been a gradual shift in focus from full albums to individual songs, it will be interesting to see this generation’s consumption of the Beatles and if any b-sides or less popular tracks will suddenly become new favorites.