beatles-digital-downloadYesterday, a friend and I were talking about the recent announcement that the Beatles catalog will finally be available on iTunes. My friend immediately went into full music snob mode as she turned up her nose and asked, “Who doesn’t already own the entire Beatles catalog?”

Well, plenty of people—and in today’s music buying climate in which the percentage of music purchased digitally is growing rapidly by the year, the Beatles announcement will make their music available to a large group of music listeners that only buy online and may not have otherwise purchased the Fab Four’s albums.

“It has been a long and winding road to get here,” Steve Jobs (somewhat lamely) remarked of the news. But he’s right, Apple Inc. (owner of iTunes) and Apple Corps Ltd (the conglomerate formed by the Beatles to handle their business affairs) have been in legal battles with each other over the Apple name since the late 1970s. In part because of this, the Beatles had become one of the last bands to enter the digital realm.

Now they’ve opened their discography up to a new demographic of music buyer, some of whom have never purchased a physical album. It’s a quickly changing record industry, and today’s record buyer seems far removed from the one that was spinning a vinyl copy of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on a turntable in 1967.