EMI to release McCartney catalog

Company offers digital tracks of solo material

The number of major digital holdouts in EMI’s vaunted catalog shrunk to two on Monday, as the record company said it will release the entire digital catalog of Paul McCartney.

Digital tracks spanning the era between 1970, when he released his debut solo album “McCartney,” and 2005, when he recorded “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard,” will be sold on iTunes and other digital platforms. All records he released with his band Wings are included under the deal.

The Beatles and Led Zeppelin are the remaining major artists in the EMI catalog whose music is not available digitally.

Digital release will form part of a larger relaunch of McCartney’s catalog, which will also include the re-issue of select physical albums.

McCartney is scheduled to release a new album in June with Hear Music, the Starbucks-sponsored label with which he recently signed; that album is not part of the EMI offering.

News that EMI had reached an agreement with the former Beatle led to speculation that the music of the Fab Four itself would soon be available on digital platforms.

An announcement has been anticipated for more than a year, and while some have said a deal is basically done, no official word has come down from EMI or Apple Records, which controls music by the Beatles.

A deal would provide a boost both to retailers and to EMI itself; the Beatles are among the top-selling acts of all time, and yet have thus far not had their songs available as part of the digital-music revolution.

EMI will distribute all the McCartney songs on digital platforms without DRM, as it is doing with many other artists. That means that tracks will be slightly more expensive, but will be sold without copyright protection, enabling them to be copied.

EMI has been at the fore of the movement to sell tracks without DRM, an action Apple topper Steve Jobs has himself encouraged in the hope it will goose sales.

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