According to a story in England’s Guardian newspaper, the whole of the Beatles' 2000 compilation album, 1, has been converted into 30-second iTunes ringtones. The set includes everything from “Love Me Do” to “Yesterday,” “Paperback Writer,” “Yellow Submarine,” “Hey Jude,” “Penny Lane” and “Eleanor Rigby” which, I dunno, just seems kind of wrong.
I mean, it’s cool that people still dig the Beatles so much and rightly so. But reducing a minor masterpiece like “Let it Be” or “All You Need is Love” or “The Long and Winding Road” to a short, sharp, tinny sound-bite delivering an inevitably prosaic message like ‘Honey, there’s traffic and I’m gonna be 10 minutes late, can you grab the dry cleaning?’ casts a pall on the band’s genius, you know?
Anyway, as the Guardian notes, the move to ringtones would not be newsworthy except for the Beatles' extreme reluctance to sell their songs as digital tracks. It wasn't until 2010 that the remaining members and their various representatives finally approved their albums' sale on iTunes. Within a week, they sold more than 450,000 full-lengths and two million digital tracks.
And there’s more moola where that came from. Apparently, the ringtone industry is worth almost $2.2 billion according to the research firm Gartner though ironically, most mobiles are now sophisticated enough to use user-generated ringtones, not just those that are purchased from carriers.
Maybe better to buy the album instead.