The Long And Winding Road: Beatles Are Finally Coming To iTunes

That big mysterious announcement Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) has coming tomorrow? It’s that The Beatles’ catalog will finally be sold on iTunes, reports the WSJ, citing unidentified sources. Still, the report notes the fragility of the agreement and warns that there was a chance that Apple could change its mind.

Given the attention its announcement in the ITunes feature box earlier this afternoon garnered, it sounds like there’s no turning back this time. The introduction of The Beatles’ music into the iTunes store has taken years of negotiations and many false starts. Things appeared to come together last week during talks between Apple and representatives of the Beatles and their record label, EMI Group.

Over the years, the dashed hopes have been too numerous to count. But there has been steady progress since February 2007, when Apple and The Beatles settled their long-standing trademark lawsuit of the “Apple” name in connection with the music business. Since then, expectation has run high, through The Beatles’ agreement with Viacom (NYSE: VIA) to star in their own Rock Band video game to last summer, when Apple Records began placing some of its artists’ recordings on iTunes.

Robert adds: Beatles on iTunes? At this point: a shoulder shrug and a “meh.” They missed last year’s big re-release bandwagon, and the one before that. This digital project is now set quite far behind the “analogue” equivalent. That means the digital opportunity may be far less than it would have been had they got this done two years ago. The remastering project was cross-platform (one output was Beatles Rock Band). There’s a likelihood they’ve squandered the bulk of the opportunity, even if it’s lucrative. A working alarm clock would probably have more impact on most folks’ lives.

More to come