How EMI's New CEO Helped Beatles Clear iTunes Hurdles
After years of litigation and ill will, it took two men just a couple of hours to hammer out the basic terms that would finally bring the Beatles' music to the iTunes Store.
According to Ethan Smith at wsj.com, The deal was outlined by Jeff Jones, chief executive of the Beatles' corporate entity, Apple Corps Ltd., and Roger Faxon, CEO of EMI Group Ltd., which owns and distributes the band's recordings. The meeting took place at EMI's London headquarters this past July 14, less than a month after Mr. Faxon took the reins at EMI.
Under the terms, Apple Inc.'s digital media store is the Beatles' exclusive online retailer at least until January, Mr. Faxon said in an interview Tuesday, after the much-awaited deal was announced. It marks the first time that Beatles songs have been available for digital-download sales.
"Jeff and I sat down shortly after I arrived" as CEO of EMI, Mr. Faxon recalled. "We agreed this really was the moment to do this. After that it was very easy to cut a deal." They code-named the initiative "Bastille," as it coincided with Bastille Day.
The next four months were spent on the details of a final agreement between band and record label, then nailing down terms with Apple Inc. and iTunes.
Mr. Faxon had previously served for many years as a senior executive at EMI's music-publishing division, where he won a reputation as a low-key but effective executive, in an industry filled with outsized egos.
Though EMI owns the Beatles' master recordings, the band retains veto power over new uses of the "masters," as they are known in the industry. It exerts that power through Apple Corps, whose board comprises band members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, the widows of the late Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison.
Conventional wisdom has long held that the Apple Corps board members were too obstinate or too anti-technology to allow the Beatles' music to be sold online, but that wasn't the case, particularly in the past three years, according to people familiar with the situation.
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