Paul McCartney

Behind the Beatles-iTunes deal

November 16, 2010: 12:41 PM ET

Getting Apple, Apple Corps., EMI, Sony/ATV and Yoko Ono to agree took some doing

Image: Apple Inc.

"While details remain to be worked out, Fortune has learned that iTunes is close to a deal to bring the Beatles catalog online."

So wrote Tim Arango, now at New York Times, in Fortune's Nov. 27, 2006 issue.

"As Fortune went to press," he wrote, "numerous deal points were still being hammered out. According to a music industry executive apprised of the talks, the parties were discussing how lengthy a window of exclusivity iTunes might get and how many tens of millions of dollars Jobs -- who is said to be personally involved in the discussions -- will commit to an advance for the band and marketing costs."

As we learned Tuesday morning, it took another four years for the deal to be sealed and the Beatles' catalog to appear -- exclusively, as Arango suggested -- on the iTunes music store.

We don't know what finally broke the logjam [the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times offered some fresh details in Wednesday's editions]. But thanks to some of the parties' inability to keep mum, we have a pretty good record of the sticking points.

A timeline:


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