10 August, 2010

Apples to Apples

In seemingly tragic news for Beatles fans - or those just wondering what all the fuss over these 'Beatles' things is all about - the release of the Beatles' catalogue on iTunes has been delayed yet again.  Yoko Ono has said that there is an element of negotiations with Apple computers that they are not happy with, adding, "Don't hold your breath."
Such news may make iPod owners despair of ever being able to listen to some of the most influential music ever made on their fashionable digital devices.  So far, the only way to buy compressed digital versions of the Beatles' music is to spend a fortune on the Beatles USB drive which contains all the albums in MP3 and FLAC formats.  So what's a music lover to do?

Well, fear not!  I'm here to help.  Believe it or not, I have all the Beatles' albums on my iPod - mono and stereo - and I'm going to show you how you too can have the world's most popular music on the world's most popular music player.

First, buy a Beatles CD.  Yes, I know you want it on your iPod, not your CD player, but keep reading.  If you're not sure how to buy a CD, there are a couple of different ways.  You could order it from an online retailer such as Amazon.com or alternatively, you could explore your local shopping mall or main street to see if there is a record shop there.  Record shops sell CDs to the public face to face.  Be aware that this method does involve leaving the house and is therefore not recommended for agoraphobics except under strict supervision.  

The method we are going to use will work on both the old CDs and the newly remastered ones.  It will even work on the mono versions so there's no need to worry about whether you bought the right one.

Once you have obtained your Beatles CD, remove it from the cover, and insert it into your computer's CD/DVD drive.  Then, start iTunes.

Now, here comes the clever bit:  Don't go to the iTunes store.  Instead, have a look just below the Store link, and you should see the CD listed there.  If you're lucky, iTunes will have downloaded the CD title and track-list information already.  Then, all you have to do is click Import CD at the bottom-right corner of the iTunes window.

You will not be asked for confirmation that you want to purchase these tracks because you actually already have!  iTunes will then magically convert the music on the CD to the same format that you would purchase from the iTunes store.  This will happen a lot quicker than downloading the songs because there's nothing to download.  It's all done on the computer and in a few short minutes, you'll have an entire Beatles album in your iTunes library.

What's more, you don't even have to back up your purchases because you already have a backup copy in the form on the CD.  The disc can be played on your stereo, in your car, or just safely stored away until your hard drive crashes or your iPod gets lost.

Now comes the tricky bit:  you have imported the music into your iTunes library, but how to get it onto your iPod?  Because I am something of an advanced user, I have turned the automatic sync off.  So what I would do would be to browse my iTunes library for the Beatles album I have just imported, and drag it onto my iPod on the left.  However, you probably have auto-sync turned on, and if so, all you have to do is plug your iPod in, and within minutes, you will have the Beatles on your iPod!  Amazing, huh?

You might have noticed that we used Abbey Road for this example, but you can use the same process for any Beatles album.  The only thing to be careful of is that if you buy the White Album, it comes on two discs.  You will need to make sure you follow the above process for both discs, or otherwise, you will only have half the album on your iPod.  The same applies to Live at the BBC, Anthology 1, 2 and 3, and the Red and Blue albums.  You might like to wait until you've have a bit of practice before you have a go at those ones.  

At this point, you might be thinking, "Wow! It's so easy to get Beatles songs on my iPod, it's amazing that other artists haven't thought of this!"  Well, guess what?  All kinds of artists distribute their music this way, from download sceptics like Led Zeppelin, Metallica and Radiohead to darlings of the download age like Arctic Monkeys and Lady Gaga.  

Remember, you don't have to like artists on the cutting edge of technology to do this.  Got a soft spot for Buddy Holly?  Love a bit of Louis Armstrong?  Can't get enough Karajan?  You can get them all without ever having to worry about exceeding your bandwidth.  You can even do it with non-musical recordings such as comedy performances, audio books or Justin Bieber.  

So now you never have to worry about iTunes not carrying an artist again.  Happy listening!


  1. This post is full of win!

  2. I dig the ironic nature of your post, but I suspect that most people don't want to do that.

    For example, I am a big King Crimson fan (particularly with Adrian Belew on lead vocals and guitar) but don't want to go out and purchase the CD's, copy the music to my computer, then put away the aforementioned CD's, when I could just download them (or more importantly, the tracks I want).

  3. Prompted by your comment, I've just had a look at King Crimson and I'm kind of surprised that they are all available for individual download. iTunes usually makes you buy the whole album for tracks over 7 minutes.

    I think the artist has the right to present their work as they see fit. Maybe there are people who want to buy Sgt Pepper but leave out When I'm 64 and Good Morning, Good Morning - but I think enough people have made do with the full album to justify is coming only as the whole package. I'm with Pink Floyd on that one. I always liked the way Joe Jackson programmed his Blaze of Glory CD as one track, to force people to listen to it in order.

  4. I'll check iTunes later (having a problem with it at the moment–a -1712 error–I am sure it is due to some maintenance I was doing, seeing that it worked fine prior) though the last time I checked you could find individual Crimson tracks that are part of soundtracks; no love when trying to download entire King Crimson albums.

    By the way, which Bruce Cockburn song did you get "got to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight" from?

    The song is on the tip of my tongue, but I can't seem to recall it.

  5. It's Lovers in a Dangerous Time.

    I might have spoken too soon. I saw tracks for individual download but not being familiar with their work, it might not all be available. It might also depend on which country's store you're looking in.
    Thanks for visiting.