Digital outlets have enabled fans to buy tracks for a fraction of their former price, but the Beatles would likely see a boom in sales if they made their back catalogue available to buy online. The band, who refused to sell their songs on CD until 1987, have finally agreed to allow digital releases exclusively through iTunes, the Financial Times reported.
The decision comes two years before the 50-year copyright protection on the Beatles' earliest work is to due to begin running out. 'Love Me Do', the band's first single, released in October 1962, will lose its copyright in late 2012.
Rumours that the Beatles were ready to step into the digital age were fuelled by an announcement on the iTunes website, which read: "Tomorrow is just another day that you''ll never forget. Check back here tomorrow for an exciting announcement from iTunes."
The band's record label, Apple Corps, and the software company have been divided by a long-standing argument about music sales. In an interview earlier this year, McCartney said: “It's been business hassles. Not with us, or iTunes. It's the people in the middle, the record label. There have been all sorts of reasons why they don't want to do it."