EMI’s Faxon says Beatles deal was ‘quite easy’

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - For Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs, getting the Beatles’ music on iTunes marked the end of a “long and winding road.”

For EMI Group Ltd. CEO Roger Faxon, it was just one more step in promoting the legacy of one of the greatest bands of all time.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Faxon said each of the special rereleases of the band’s material has added to their decades-long success story, now with 600 million albums sold and counting.

And despite the history of band infighting and trademark lawsuits between Apple Inc. and Apple Corps Ltd., which manages the band’s affairs, new fans have jumped on board every time they’ve been given a chance.

“I don’t second guess the past,” said Faxon, the EMI publishing chief who was elevated to chief executive this June. “All the to-ing and fro-ing of EMI and Apple and all has resulted in an astonishing expansion in the success of this music.”

Apple Corps Ltd., founded in 1968 by the original Beatles, is now controlled by the surviving band members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr; John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono; and George Harrison’s widow, Olivia Harrison. EMI owns rights to the Beatles recordings but needs Apple Corps‘ permission for new releases.

Getting Apple Inc., Apple Corps and EMI to all agree to a deal had been tough slogging, especially because infighting plagued Apple Corps after the band broke up in 1970.

Trademark disputes also frayed relations between the two Apples, but many people thought a settlement with certain undisclosed terms in 2007 would result in quick deal for online distribution. As fans clamored for digital copies, though, Apple Corps held back.

Digital delivery came only after the full catalog was remastered and sold as a set of CDs last year in conjunction with “The Beatles: Rock Band” video game.

Faxon said in the end, it was “quite easy” to get all sides to agree, and he praised Apple Corps‘ sound judgment.

“They’re tremendous custodians of this catalog and its heritage,” he said. “They’re always measuring what the right answer is. So I think they saw what we saw, which is that the market has matured. The technology had matured. It was the right moment to bring the Beatles into the digital arena.”

Faxon wouldn’t say whether Apple Inc. paid any special dividend to license the catalog above the 70 percent of sales it typically pays to labels and artists. Apple also declined to speak about the terms of the deal. Apple Corps did not immediately return a message late Tuesday.

But Faxon said Apple had committed to a huge marketing campaign, including a takeover of much of the iTunes front page, TV ad spots and promotion of the Beatles at Apple stores worldwide. He called it “a huge commitment on the part of Apple to making the Beatles really come alive.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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