That was yesterday's big announcement. From the Guardian:
"After years of wrangling EMI make payments to allow Fab Four's back catalogue to be legally downloaded
Think of it as the long and winding download: after a decade of wrangling the Beatles, their heirs and their record company EMI finally came together to agree to appear on Apple's iTunes today.
In the 10 years since iTunes launched, the Beatles were the most notable absentees, prompting endless questions about when the Fab Four would embrace the digital technology of the current generation."
I've heard rumblings from the music blogosphere that this will let a new generation discover the Beatles. But honestly, will it? The Beatles is the one musical group whose influence is so omnipresent and undeniable that it's impossible to find an audience in need of "discovering" them. Your parents have those records. Hell, your grandparents have those records. I remember this quote from Daniel Leviitin's This Is Your Brain On Music:
"The first time I heard John Lennon or Donald Fagan (Steely Dan) sing, I thought the voices unimaginable strange. I didn't want to like them. Something lept me going back to listen, though."
Lennon's voice never sounded strange to me because by the time I'd finally heard it, his influence had been filtered through the music I'd grown up with, and I'm at least one generation removed from the Beatles. I'd guess it's been that way for the last forty years.
Edit as of 8:50 AM: Five of the Beatles albums charted in the top twenty less than twenty-four hours after Apples's big announcement.