John Lennon’s solo catalog will be made available digitally for the first time beginning this week with the release of the retrospective “Working Class Hero.” The balance of Lennon’s solo work will arrive digitally via as-yet-unannounced services on Dec. 5 in the United Kingdom and a day later in North America. A handful of unspecified tracks will also be available for download on mobile devices.
“I am very happy that John’s music is now available to a new generation of music fans,” says Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono. “New technology is something he always embraced and this is something he would have loved. I always say that he would have been very excited by all the opportunities offered by the development of new means of communication.”
However, the artist’s music will not be sold via Apple’s iTunes Music Store, which is embroiled in a lawsuit with Apple Corps Ltd., the Beatles’ former record label. The latter company sued the computer giant earlier this year, claiming the iTunes store breaches a 1991 agreement involving the use of the Apple trademark for any works “whose principal content is music and, or performances.”
That disagreement is one of many reasons the Beatles’ music remains unavailable in digital form. Even Paul McCartney recently acknowledged the complexity of an online foray for the legendary rock quartet.
“I must say, I don’t really get involved too much in that stuff, because it’s all a little bit political,” he told Billboard in September. “It’s EMI, it’s [the publishing company] Northern Songs, it’s Apple; there’s an awful lot of people involved. I get involved in stuff I can actually control and do something about. There’s a lot of strangeness in those areas, and I tend to keep out of them.”
“Something will happen,” he added. “At some point, somebody will make the right move and it’ll all happen. But at the moment, people aren’t making the right move, so I just keep out of it. I stay on the edges of these things and just notice them with mild surprise.”