For a very brief time yesterday, Sky News reported that, finally, The Beatles would make their musical debut on iTunes. The source for the report? None other than Yoko Ono herself. But don’t go fire up iTunes too soon; both the Sky News report and Google’s own cache have quickly, and quietly, been pulled from the web. Quite an achievement, really.
According to TechCrunch, the headline made the unequivocal claim, “The whole of the Beatles back catalogue will be made available to buy on iTunes, Ono has told Sky News.”
9 to 5Mac reports a Sky employee told them that the order to remove the news story “came from the very top.” Meanwhile, EMI Global Catalogue President Ernesto Schmitt yesterday told The Financial Times, “Conversations between Apple and EMI are ongoing, and we look forward to the day when we can make the music available digitally. But it’s not tomorrow.”
So where does this leave us? If Ono is wrong and the story was indeed in error, a responsible (not to mention more normal) response from Sky News would be to retract the original report and explain its reasons for doing so. But talk of directives “from the top” fuels speculation that this is frantic damage control ahead of the special music-themed event Apple is holding later today. If Apple wants to announce the Beatles’ iTunes premiere with appropriate fanfare, the last thing it needs is Ono shooting her mouth off to the world’s press ahead of time.
Consider this: If Ono’s premature announcement proves true, and the Mop Tops are about to appear on the iTunes Store, should we be impressed — or deeply concerned — that Apple can exercise such influence (control?) over a major news organization? Last time I checked, Sky News and Apple are not the same company, don’t share the same board of directors, and don’t have any business dealings with one another. Getting the jump on one of Apple’s best-kept-secrets is any news publisher’s dream, particularly when it’s such big news, of interest not only to the industry but also to the general public. There’s no danger of litigation here; Sky has a source, a fairly reputable source, at that. So why not run with the story?
At this point, all we do know for sure is that 09/09/09 is a red letter day. Apple is holding a special event. The Beatles are launching their digitally remastered back catalogue in (at least) CD format. Harmonix is today launching the much-anticipated “The Beatles Rock Band” on all major console platforms.
For music fans, it’s a big day for announcements and releases. Just not if you’re Sky News — or Yoko Ono.
Stay tuned to TheAppleBlog’s live coverage of Apple’s special music event later today.