Beatles to go digital in 2008; U2's Bono goes to Facebook app to talk to fans

mccartneyTwo significant bits of music news this week: The Beatles are expected to release their catalog into the digital realm sometime in 2008, and U2 has given fans an unprecedented sneak preview of the unreleased song “Wave of Sorrow” through the Facebook app iLike.

We’ve been hearing about the Beatles making their music available for download off and on for the past year or so, but nothing was ever official. It’s now about as official as it can get as Sir Paul McCartney told Billboard that he’s “pretty sure” the band’s music will go digital in 2008, although he didn’t say when specifically.

“It’s happening soon,” McCartney said. “Most of us are all sort of ready. The whole thing is primed, ready to go — there’s just maybe one little sticking point left , and I think that it’s being cleared up as we speak, so it shouldn’t be too long.”

The Beatles are perhaps the highest-profile band not making their music available for purchase online. The solo catalogs of McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr are all now available for download.

u2 on ilikeU2, another mega-band from across the pond, is re-releasing its stellar “Joshua Tree” next week, and it will feature previously unreleased tracks. U2’s lead singer, Bono, gave fans a rendition of one unreleased song, “Wave of Sorrow”, in an interview with the creators of the Facebook app iLike.

You can see the video at iLike or via the iLike Facebook app.

The Facebook release is significant because it’s believed to be the first time a major act is talking directly to fans via a social network like Facebook. So far, 1,301,658 people are listed as U2 fans on Facebook, with nearly 9,500 messages left.

As TechCrunch notes, the release of the Bono interview is an experiment. No press was notified when the video went live as they wanted to see how fast it spread virally without promotion. With this kind of success, you can expect other artists to follow U2’s lead.

Photo credit: McCartney, from Billboard.

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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