Beatles to Make Digital Debut on Rockband

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After years of expectation could the Beatles finally be getting ready to take its music into the digital world? Maybe, but the Beatles won't be coming to your iPod anytime soon. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple Corps Ltd (the Beatles' recording company) and MTV Networks are expected to announce today that the Beatles have licensed songs to the popular video game Rockband, a 4-person game which allows you to emulate your favorite bands with 2 guitars, drums and a microphone.

Press invitations have been issued by Apple Corps and MTV Networks for a teleconference scheduled for 10 AM ET in New York where representatives will discuss a "global music project." If the Beatles really have gone Rockband it would be a coup for MTV Networks, owned by Viacom and makers of Rockband, which is locked in a battle to the death with Activision's Guitar Hero to acquire exclusive licensing rights for big-name acts. Notable acts that have licensed music to videogames include digital holdouts Metallica (Guitar Hero) and AC/DC (Rockband).

However, while the excitement over the Beatles catalog finally going digital may be exciting, we've seen speculation like this before. Let's not forget the rumors from Fortune magazine and Hollywood Reporter, after the EMI vs. Beatles court fight and more rumors about a deal with iTunes circulated last March.

It's entirely possible that the announcement today is legitimate, but let's not assume too much yet. However, this deal makes sense for a catalog that has, up until now anyway, been digitally shy. A deal with Rockband bypasses digital music retailers like iTunes, and allows the Beatles better control over the digital availability of the band's music. Whether the Beatles are ever going to allow its music to be sold as either DRM or DRM-free albums is anybody's guess.

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