Sorry, naysayers. The Beatles on iTunes was a big deal — so big, in fact, that the band carried music sales to a rare year-over-year increase.
Music sales in the United States were up 1.6 percent through May 8, according to Nielsen Soundscan. More than half of those sales went to digital retailers, as physical album sales continued to plummet.
Although Nielsen doesn’t have specific sales figures for digital Beatles tracks, the patterns are pretty obvious. Sales of catalog music — old stuff, that is — shot up immediately in November, when The Beatles hit iTunes, and has continued to see year-over-year growth in every month since.
The Beatles’ catalog landed on iTunes November 16, after years of rumors, speculation and drama. The deal between Apple, Apple Corps (The Beatles’ publisher) and record label EMI is reportedly exclusive through some time this year.
When Apple announced the news, skeptics wondered whether there were any Beatles fans left in the world who hadn’t already purchased physical albums or resorted to piracy. This is silly. There are plenty of people who don’t want to go the illegal route, either for reasons of morality or convenience, and the fact that these people could suddenly buy their favorite Beatles tracks from a smattering of albums was a huge development.
It just goes to show that if you give people what they want and make it easy to buy, they will hand over their money. That’s something for other digital music holdouts — AC/DC, Garth Brooks and Bob Seger among them — to consider.