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Giles

This is massive.

At last, the most popular music catalog of all time — every album from The Beatles — will be available for streaming globally across all services beginning at midnight on December 24. This seachange could be the final shift in the way people listen to music. Except it’s more than a change in tide — it’s the biggest wave the music world has seen of late.

The Beatles are the most influential pop band in music history, and it makes complete sense that they should be accessible to all music lovers all of the time.

But why now?

It’s clear that streaming is how most listeners are now enjoying their favorite songs. It made no sense to deprive the world of some of the greatest music ever recorded. Now The Beatles can be discovered by a new generation. And make no mistake, they are as relevant today as they were fifty years ago — back when John, Paul, George and Ringo began working hand-in-hand with my father in the studio.

From Vinyl to Digital Streaming

The very same microphone that captured John Lennon’s voice in Abbey Road Studios sits there exactly as it was on the day.
The very same microphone that captured John Lennon’s voice in Abbey Road Studios sits there exactly as it was on the day.

Getting to this point has taken years. I agreed with Apple Corps CEO Jeff Jones and Universal’s Lucian Grange that The Beatles needed to be on all streaming services if they were to reach a new generation of music fans. I’ve been making sure that the Beatles’ music sounds as good as it possibly can, because there is no reason why listening to any music in the home shouldn’t be as good as it ever was.

“I have had the privilege of being able to listen to The Beatles original tapes at Abbey Road, and they sound as fresh today as they were when The Beatles sang in the studio.”

The magic of this moment isn’t lost on me. Sitting at the Abbey Road studios with a Sonos speaker playing back musical history, it makes me think of how lucky we are today. I have had the privilege of being able to listen to The Beatles original tapes at Abbey Road, and they sound as fresh today as they were when The Beatles sang in the studio. Recording in some ways freezes time. The very same microphone that captured John Lennon’s voice sits there exactly as it was on the day, and now, through Sonos, it can be streamed directly into your home without any other process being involved.

My dream is for people to experience the same hi-fidelity as I experience at Abbey Road. With this clarity comes a much stronger emotional connection to the music.

Creating a Timeless Sound

Sir George Martin With the Beatles
Sir George Martin With the Beatles (Photo: Courtesy of Abbey Road Studios)

Despite what some people might think based on my dad’s relationship with the band, I didn’t really grow up around the Beatles. I was, coincidentally, born on John Lennon’s birthday while they were recording Abbey Road just before they broke up. I was aware that my dad was a music producer and had worked with a band, but when I was a kid he was recording America and Jeff Beck. I grew up knowing Paul McCartney and his kids (we are all friends today) as my father worked with Paul on solo albums and Live and Let Die, but it wasn’t until I created the Love show that I really became connected to the Beatles professionally.

“Time has shown that The Beatles are unique, and no other band has sold anywhere near as many records, nor has had such a huge fan base.”

Time has shown that The Beatles are unique, and no other band has sold anywhere near as many records, nor has had such a huge fan base. Despite the age of the records, they still sound as fresh — even fresher now that the albums have been remastered. Every recording is a performance. Nothing is adjusted, put in time or in tune. The sound of The Beatles is the sound of four very individual characters creating great music with a great producer at the helm.

I wanted to make sure that The Beatles music sounded as good as it possibly could for streaming. There is no reason anymore why music lovers can’t have great sound in their home, and I wanted to make sure that all of the streaming services were receiving the music in the right way.

Beatles records
Despite the age of the records, they still sound as fresh — even fresher now that the albums have been remastered.

I had the privilege of remixing The Beatles 1 album earlier this year. While I was working on the tracks, I was also helping develop the new PLAY:5 for Sonos. In the control room of Abbey Road’s studio 3, I’d have the mixes set up while I turned the live area of the studio into a living room. I wanted to make sure that the new mixes sounded as great in the home as they do in the studio. The key to making a great speaker is to break down the barrier between the studio and the listener at home.

This Christmas Eve, Come Together

So what should you play first now that the entire catalog is available? Since it’s Christmas, I think “All You Need Is Love” makes sense. It was the first piece of music ever broadcast via satellite, so it’s only right that fans stream that first! “Something” is a great George song, but for listening pleasure I’d recommend the second half of Abbey Road.

If you want to really go deep, “A Day in The Life” is about as interesting a listen as you can have. It’s such a complex but beautiful song. Listen to it and think of it as a four track, which means you have four “goes” to make the record. First up on track one, John plays guitar and sings a guide track, Paul plays piano, Ringo plays maracas (shaker) and George plays bongos. This is the foundation of the track, all played live and unedited (a performance). Then Paul and Ringo go back in the studio and play drums and bass along with this backing track to create track two. You can hear these two tracks on either side in the stereo version. On the third track, John records his remarkable vocal with a tape delay on his voice. Finally, my father scores a symphony orchestra playing massive crescendo on the fourth track. An extraordinarily complicated record made in a very simple and economic way. Oh, and they did use all four tracks for the final piano chord at the end.

I’m not sure there will be a band like The Beatles ever again. I’d love to think there will be. The fact that The Beatles had three very strong songwriters in the band makes them unique, and their output was extraordinary. Often they would record and finish four songs in a day. The landscape has changed. Image is everything, but there’s so much talent and love for music, that you never know who might be out there. In fact, the very last line of the last Beatles song ever recorded is a good metaphor for it all: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

As long as people love music, the possibilities are endless. And now there’s even more love to be spread with this historic release.

Header photo: ©Apple Corps Ltd.