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The Rolling Stones Offer Music Downloads, At Last, But Not Yet With iTMS

The Rolling Stones Offer Music Downloads, At Last, But Not Yet With iTMS

by , 11:00 AM EDT, August 19th, 2003

Steve Jobs can't get no satisfaction, at least not initially. The Rolling Stones, one of the great holdouts in the online music distribution business, have announced an exclusive deal with RealNetworks' Rhapsody service.

Rhapsody is Real's subscription service (it requires a monthly subscription fee) that allows for streaming of Rhapsody's entire online catalog of more than 200,000 songs. If you want to download or burn one of those songs, you have to pay an additional fee of US$.79 per track (see our full coverage on Rhapsody's download service for more information). The exclusivity deal with The Rolling Stones lasts through the end of August, just under two weeks.

At the end of that time, MSNBC reports that the Rolling Stones will be available through other online music distribution services, including Apple's iTMS. As of press time, spokespersons from Apple were unavailable for comment, or to confirm the story.

Interestingly, not all of The Stones' catalog will be available for download. While everything recorded and released after 1971 will be available for streaming and download, everything recorded prior to that year will only be available for streaming. This is because neo-Luddite Alan Klein, whose record label ABKCO owns all of the Stone's material from this earlier era, has not embraced the Internet or music downloads. It is unknown how this will effect any distribution deals with Apple.

Of note is MSNBC's coverage of the news, which suggested that The Stones' decision to go with Real was a slight against Apple CEO Steve Jobs. From MSNBC:

The deal emphasizes the value of a subscription service like Rhapsody, which uses streaming technology to allow customers to listen to all they want, as much as they want -- as long as they keep subscribing. It's also a dis of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who personally wooed Jagger to get first crack at the Stones on his iTunes service. But since Rhapsody has only a two-week exclusive, EMI will soon license its catalog to Apple and others. As for the early tunes, you can't always get want you want -- unless you steal it.

There's more on the deal in the full article at MSNBC, as well as articles from Rolling Stone Magazine and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Mac Observer Spin:

The move for this band into the late 20th century is a good thing for the music industry as a whole. The music industry needs to galvanize interest in something, especially when the Suits In Charge are idiotically releasing less and less music, while bemoaning their lower sales. The online distribution model serves the definition of "something" rather well, and since it costs the labels almost nothing, could really ramp up profits. The Stones are already bringing lots of attention to the online distribution model, and it's only been a few hours since the news was made public. That should put a smile on a few music-hating corporate lackeys.

It should also be a good thing for Apple. Yes, Apple got burned by not landing this deal with The Stones, and who knows why the company didn't get the gig, but this band will eventually be at the iTMS. With The Beatles and The Stones being the biggest holdouts, where goes one, should go the other. This, in turn, will definitely help lure more bands to the magical world of online distribution, which benefits Apple even as it benefits fans, bands, and (unfortunately) the big labels.

Want some gossip? It's long been suggested that Mick Jagger has been hot and bothered by the fact that The Beatles are still considered the world's best rock-n-roll band, despite the fact that The Beatles broke up more than 30 years ago, and The Stones are still performing huge live shows. With Paul McCartney also lining up in the "LPs Or Nothing!" crowd when it comes to Internet distribution, we wouldn't be too surprised if The Stones changed their mind on this issue just to beat Paul and Ringo (and what's-her-name) to the scene. Finally, it's something the Stones did first! Mind you, we have not one iota of evidence to back that up, but we'd bet a Big Mac (the kind with two all-beef patties) that we're right. We'll also bet a large order of fries that when The Beatles finally relent, it will still be a bigger deal. Life is funny that way. Hopefully, The Beatles will make the right choice, however, and go with the iTMS at first.

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