The Beatles, the most beloved rock band in history — and one of the most persistent holdouts in the digital age of music listening — are set to finally arrive on streaming services, according to Billboard sources with knowledge of the negotiations.
While Billboard has received conflicting reports on the timing of the Fab Four’s arrival to streaming platforms, there’s a strong indication that fans will be able to hear “Hey Jude” on Thursday, Dec. 24. (Keep an eye out for whether Liverpool’s most famous sons unseat Justin Bieber‘s streaming record.)
Chatter around a six month “exclusive” for a known streaming service reportedly began to trickle out of Apple Records in 2014, according to one source, but fizzled out. This past January, former Universal Music Group digital executive Rob Wells restarted discussions for the massive get, with papers reportedly having been signed in mid-September. It’s unknown which specific services have secured the deal, though sources strongly suggest that most, if not all, will have access to the band’s catalog of studio albums next week. (The Beatles are already available on Pandora because of how “non-demand” web radio is licensed.)
When asked, a Spotify representative said the company “would not comment on that.” Rhapsody also refused to comment. Apple, Tidal, Deezer and Slacker did not immediately return a request for comment.
The Beatles as an entity has been notoriously slow in adopting and adapting to new technology — it took the band six years to arrive on the iTunes Store, selling two million songs during its first week. The group took 25 years, since its breakup in 1970, to issue the comprehensive Anthology documentary. It didn’t get involved with video games until The Beatles: Rock Band was released in 2009. The Beatles music was released on CD in 1987, but the band didn’t remaster their work until 22 years later.
The group joins the streaming revolution just as music consumption on such platforms has begun to officially overtake downloads in revenue generation for major labels. They’ve sold 178 million albums in the U.S., according to the RIAA.
It’s not as though the group needs the exposure. Since the arrival of Beatlemania, the band has maintained a constant presence around the world through members’ solo work — Paul McCartney appeared on two Kanye West songs this year, “FourFiveSeconds” and “Only You” — reissues like the 2009 The Beatles in Mono box set and tributes from seemingly every musical artist in history (Kurt Cobain, perhaps most infamously), much of it fueled by a perpetual cycle of rediscovery of the group’s work by younger listeners.
Additional reporting by Glenn Peoples.