Beatles on iTunes: All Things Must Pass

It’s been over a month since the Beatles made their iTunes debut and I thought I would take another look at the iTunes album sales rankings. It seems the novelty has worn off and things on iTunes have reverted back to their pre-Beatles status. Unlike ‘Day Two”, when there were 17 Beatles’ albums in the iTunes Top 50, there are now no Beatles’ albums.

However, 4 Beatles Albums remain in the Top 100:

    64. Abbey Road

    77. Boxed Set

    82. White Album

    84. The Beatles 1967-

This makes much more sense in the scheme of things. It is interesting to see which albums have remained relatively strong. Abbey Road isn’t surprising and neither is the Boxed Set given it’s potential appeal as a Christmas gift. I would be surprised if the Boxed Set was still at #77 after the New Year. I freely admit that seeing Susan Boyle’s at #63, just ahead of Abbey Road, rankles a bit. Not that I begrudge Susan Boyle but….. sigh.

Beatles on iTunes: Day Two

Tracking sales; it’s an old habit of mine. So I couldn’t resist an update on Beatles album sales. It is interesting to see how sales are shaking out among iTunes customers. It has been suggested in an article in today’s New York Times that most die-hard Beatles fans have already ripped their CDs onto iPods. So this pattern of popularity is ostensibly among less enthusiastic fans.

This may be true of the top 3; Abbey Road, the White Album, and Sgt. Pepper. But I have a feeling that purchasers of the Boxed set at $149 may be cash-strapped die hard fans who bought a few of the 2009 digital releases on CD but couldn’t manage the almost $300 price tag for the boxed set “hard copy”.

12:30 PM/ Day 2

    7. Abbey Road
    8. White Album
    9. Sgt. Pepper
    11. Boxed Set
    12. The Beatles 1967-
    14. The Beatles 1962-
    17. Rubber Soul
    19. Revolver
    21. Magical Mystery Tour
    22. Let It Be
    25. Hard Day’s Night
    27. Please Please Me
    29. Help
    31. With the Beatles
    33. Past Masters
    35. Beatles for Sale
    47. Yellow Submarine

Beatles on iTunes

I’m not sure what it is. I have no reason to get sentimental about the announcement that the Beatles catalog was finally on iTunes. I didn’t have any reason to get teary when Apple announced ‘Facetime’ on the iPhone 4 either, but I did. At the time of the announcement of Facetime, I was overwhelmed by the realization that something fundamental had changed in my world. I’m careful to say “my world”, although I am not alone as a ‘child of the 60’s, growing up with Dick Tracy, the Jetsons, Robert Heinlein, Issac Assimov, Star Trek and myriad other visions and visionaries pointing to a future where a portable communication device could provide images as well as audio.

Skype isn’t the same thing. It’s not portable (read personal) enough. But back to the Beatles. They may not have been on iTunes these last seven years but they have been on my iPod since the beginning. Eventually the 2009 remastered Beatles CDs got downloaded on my iPod/iPhone/MacBook even though I knew I was losing fidelity because, in a world of digital media, CDs have become inconvenient.

Maybe I was just happy for Steve Jobs. He and I are ‘of an age’ and I understand the importance of the Beatles. As successful as the iTunes store has been, lack of Beatles content was a credibility issue. Now, that has been resolved and iTunes can be considered a full-fledged member of the ‘music biz’.

So what is happening on iTunes? It is Day One of Beatles on iTunes and Abbey Road is climbing rapidly up the album charts. When I began this post it was at number 9, now, at 3:00pm EST they are at number 8; having surpassed Taylor Swift’s new album and closing in on Josh Groban at number 7.

At Hour 5/ Day 1

    8. Abbey Road
    10. White Album
    13. Boxed Set (at $149. !)
    14. Sgt. Pepper
    16. The Beatles 1967-
    17. The Beatles 1962-
    19. Rubber Soul
    23. Revolver
    24. Magical Mystery Tour
    25. Let It Be
    28. Hard Day’s Night
    29. Please Please Me
    34. With the Beatles
    38. Past Masters
    45. Beatles for Sale

For those keeping track that’s 15 of the Top 45 Albums on iTunes. So, in effect, the Beatles have grabbed one third of the album sales on iTunes in 5 hours. Not quite so dominant on the ‘song’ charts, the Beatles most popular song download is Let It Be at 46, Here Comes the Sun at 47, Blackbird at 56, In My Life at 68, With a Litle Help From My Friends at 83, Come Together at 87, and Hey Jude at 99.

The William Gibson Effect

It happens every time I read a new William Gibson novel. I get this uncontrollable urge to find new ways to express my inner geek. Gibson’s books have always spoken to me of the power of technology and I want to be able to experience some of that first-hand. Of course this can be a confusing impulse since many of the toys described in novels such as Zero History don’t yet exist. Or perhaps they do exist, or at least could exist. I think part of what I find appealing about Gibsonesque techno-toys is the fact that they are just close enough to current reality to be plausible. I mean; it’s certainly possible that there is an iPhone app for controlling surveillance balloons. And, of course why not “locative art“?

After reading Spook Country, his previous novel, the impulse was strongest. Without knowing exactly why, I unearthed my old Kaypro 2 and began plans to completely gut the machine and replace the innards with something like a Mac Mini. I thought it would be really cool to create this juxtaposition of 21st century functionality in an iconic, 1980’s form. I thought it would be ironic, surprising, and fun to play with.

The Kaypro is now sitting in my office; taunting me and challenging me to make it into something as cool as William Gibson might envision. I haven’t started the project and, for now, I’ll stick to contemplating the transformative possibilities. Otherwise, I’m afraid I’ll wind up with something mundane and disappointing; no longer the Kaypro and yet far short of Gibsonesque.

“A Little Bit of Room”: Quantified

I was in Starbucks the other morning faced with the same old dilemma. How can I get the barrista to leave the right amount of room at the top of my grande coffee for cream and sugar? I started with the standard line; “grande Verona (that was the bold coffee that day) with a little bit of room. Then I started thinking about the potential results. Some of the barristas have a very good idea just what “a little bit of room” really means. That is to say, they have a good idea of what it means to me. Other barristas have wildly varying interpretations of the concept. Some fill the cup so close to the top that I wind up slurping from the cup like a three year old with my face almost touching the counter. Other barristas leave enough room that my frustration echoes from the abyss.

So the other morning I decided to be more specific and, after asking for my grande Verona with ” a little bit of room”, I added, “I guess that means leaving about 3/4 of an inch at the top”. I was mightily pleased with the results. 3/4 of an inch was exactly right. The next morning I asked for my Grande Anniversary (yes, they changed the coffee that day) with 3/4″ at the top. I did feel compelled to add ” that’s how I’ve quantified a little bit of room” so I didn’t make the ordering process any shorted, but I did receive the perfectly measured grande coffee.

Third Time’s the Charm?
Back in Starbucks this morning and I ordered my grande (Anniversary again) with 3/4″ at the top. I’m still not comfortable leaving it at that so I added my explanation of what 3/4″ represents again. This time my cup of coffee is handed to me with well over an inch of room and I’m faced with a dilemma. Normally, in this instance, I would add the raw sugar and the half and half and ask the barrista to fill the cup to the top. But now, if I do that, I’m challenging the barristas ability to measure. This might be seen as rude so I left the Starbucks with 1/2″ less coffee than I would have liked. I think I’ll go back to asking for “a little bit of room” and let the chips fall where they may.