Beatles re-master, game drag band into digital age

Mon Sep 7, 2009 2:44pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White and Douglas MacLaurin

LONDON (Reuters) - The Beatles take a step closer to selling their music online on Wednesday with the simultaneous release of the band's re-mastered catalog and the MTV video game The Beatles: Rock Band.

The Beatles collection, available from 09/09/09, is expected to dominate the charts in key markets like the United States and Britain, bringing a windfall to the group's label EMI Music and the Fab Four's company Apple Corps Ltd.

Retailers who have seen physical music sales eroded over recent years are also gearing up for queues around the block for both the CDs and the video game, an added bonus after Michael Jackson's death in June saw a spike in sales.

While the re-mastered catalog, its first overhaul since 1987, is seen appealing mainly to Beatles' fans who would appreciate subtle variations and improvements that technology has brought, most excitement surrounds MTV's video game.

"I think this (the game) is significant because it will enable the music to be heard by a new generation of fans," said Gennaro Castaldo of music and gaming retailer HMV in London.

"It just keeps the Beatles mythology growing and growing, so that's why it is so significant."

The fact that, according to Billboard, the Beatles will soon allow fans to buy at least some of their music in digital form as extra downloadable content for the game, underlines how close the digital age may be.

"I think the Beatles music soon will be available everywhere," Giles Martin, son of Beatles producer George and who produced the music for the game, told Reuters at London's Abbey Road Studios where the band recorded.   Continued...

<p>Musicians Ringo Starr (L) and Paul McCartney introduce the new video game "The Beatles: Rock Band" at the Microsoft XBox 360 E3 2009 media briefing in Los Angeles June 1, 2009. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>