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The Beatles to Go Digital with Rock Band

The Beatles to Go Digital with Rock Band

The Beatles’ Apple Corps has struck a deal with MTV parent company Viacom and Harmonix to bring the Beatles into the digital music age for the first time. And it will be a grand entrance: The Fab Four will be the the subject of a special edition of the popular video game Rock Band. Although no pricing or firm release date information has been set, the game was conceived in conjunction with surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, as an "unprecedented, experiential progression" through the music and history of the Beatles. It should debut in 2009.

"Introducing the genius of The Beatles to a whole new generation of music lovers through original and inspired ways is extremely exciting to us," said Apple Corps CEO Jeff Jones, in a statement. CEO, Apple Corps. "We are truly pleased to be working with the innovative forces at MTV and Harmonix as they embody our mutual passions for music and creativity."

The Beatles have famously sat out the digital music revolution, opting to keep their coveted music catalog out of the digital world and eschewing strong overtures from the likes of Apple and Microsoft. Industry watchers had long expected Apple to eventually bring the Beatles into its iTunes store; despite a long history of litigation between the two companies (which, after all, are named for the same fruit), Apple CEO Steve Jobs is a well-known Beatles fan, and Apple is the dominant player in the digital music market.

However, The Beatles’ deal with Viacom and Harmonix is very much in keeping with Apple Corps recent business models for marketing the Beatles’ legacy: infrequent, high-quality releases that offer a premium experience. A Beatles-exclusive video game will not only serve to bring the Beatles’ music to a whole new generation of music fans, but will appeal to the Beatles’ mammoth (and ever-aging) fan base. Never expected to see your grandparents rocking out to "Oh Darling" while waving around plastic guitar controllers? Now it could happen.

Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, and, again, no specific release dates or game details have been announced.

"It gives me great pleasure to be part of The Beatles / Apple and Harmonix / Rock Band partnership," said Ringo Starr, in a prepared statement. "The Beatles continue to evolve with the passing of time and how wonderful that The Beatles’ legacy will find its natural progression into the 21st century through the computerized world we live in. Let the games commence."

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