Beatles on iTunes a Super Bowl Surprise?

beatles.jpgRumors are flying that Apple (the computer company) and Apple (the music publishing company) have reached agreement for the long-awaited digital release of the Beatles catalog. The Fab Four are the official Holy Grail of those who think the CD is long past dead.

The buzz began with a January 17 story in the Toronto Sun speculating that a newly remastered UK catalog would be released later this year:

The second strong possibility is that the entire state-of-the art, 24-bit remastered UK catalogue will hit stores the first week of June, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of what many call the Fabs’ finest hour — the release of their ground-breaking Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

What was the first possibility, you ask? During the iPhone pseudo-launch earlier this month, Apple CEO Steve Jobs played a bit of “Lovely Rita” on the device, tantalizing fanboys who’d already wet their seats at the sight of the underwhelming phone/music player/internet toy.

Then there’s the aforementioned Sun story, which also reported that Apple plans a “special announcement” during the Super Bowl February 4. That, said the Sun, is likely to be the moment when the world learns that they’ll be able to buy “A Day in the Life” and everything else Beatles from the iTunes Music Store come February 14.

Given the Cupertino, California company’s proclivity for big deal Big Game ads, the scenario makes some sense.

Frankly, I’ve got a bit of Apple fatigue lately, and I ripped my Beatles collection to MP3 a long time ago. I’d love to see 24-bit remasters of the UK catalog, and I’d especially like a DVD of “Let It Be” with tons of extras, something that was promised two years ago, but never delivered.

Given that the Sun was the same paper that floated those rumors, I’m not holding my breath.

Jeff Shapiro Back In Upper Valley Radio

clearchannel.jpgClear Channel has left the building, and in the words of Bob Dylan, “things should start to get interesting right about now.”

Three years after selling a group of stations led by classic rocker Q-106 (WHDQ) in Claremont, New Hampshire, Jeff Shapiro has returned to Twin State Valley radio with the purchase of the Clear Channel cluster featuring Rock 93.9/101.7 (WVRR) – the station that just happens to be Q-106’s main competitor. The sale is part of a large Clear Channel sell-off involving several markets:

Shapiro’s Great Eastern Radio LLC is buying Clear Channel’s signals, including news-talk WTSL (1400 Hanover NH) and WTSM (93.5 Springfield VT), AC WGXL (92.3 Lebanon NH), rock WMXR (93.9 Woodstock VT)/WVRR (101.7 Newport NH) and country WXXK (100.5 Lebanon NH), for an as-yet-undisclosed price.

“We are thrilled to be returning to the broadcasting community in the Upper Valley,” says Shapiro, who owned WHDQ in Claremont for almost 20 years before selling to Nassau in 2004.

No word yet on what, if anything, will happen to any of the station’s formats, though WVRR switched from Active Rock to a Classic/New hybrid about a year ago. Don’t be surprised if Greg & the Morning Buzz disappears from the local morning slot – their home station, WHEB, is still in the Clear Channel fold.

Ditto for Quinn & Cantara, the evening team that’s based in Providence, Rhode Island.  For the moment, however, it’s business as usual at all the stations.

I suppose Alanis Morrisette’s “Isn’t It Ironic?” would be an appropriate song to play at this juncture – if it were on either Q-106 or Rock 93.9/101.7’s playlists.

RIAA Sues XM, Judge Allows Trial

xm_radio.jpgThe music business doesn’t know how to break new acts, but they’re pretty good at breaking up new media business paradigms. Via SiliconValley.com comes word that a New York judge agrees with Atlantic, Capitol, BMG and a few other companies that XM Radio’s technology allowing users to tag and save songs cheats them out of money:

In refusing to toss out the lawsuit, the judge noted that the record companies consent to XM’s use of their copyrighted material solely for the purposes of providing a digital satellite broadcasting service.

The judge agreed with the plaintiffs. I think that’s how I’ll characterize them from now on; not the music industry, the plaintiff industry. Because all they do is sue people.

XM, for their part, says they’re adhering to the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, which allows consumers to record off the radio. The XM device is akin to a cassette/radio combo player, they said. The judge didn’t agree:

“It is manifestly apparent that the use of a radio-cassette player to record songs played over free radio does not threaten the market for copyrighted works as does the use of a recorder which stores songs from private radio broadcasts on a subscription fee basis,” [Judge Batts] said.

Funny, the record labels didn’t feel that way about cassettes in the Seventies, when they successfully pushed for a tax on home recording. But these guys have never had any hindsight, 20/20 or otherwise.