Beatles videogame: Yoko Ono speaks, insiders mull band's digital future | EW.com

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Beatles videogame: Yoko Ono speaks, insiders mull band's digital future

After 17 months of negotiations and signoffs with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, and George Harrison’s widow, Olivia, it was announced last week that the Beatles will star in a videogame that has been authorized for a Christmas 2009 release. It’s the result of a partnership between MTV and Harmonix (the companies behind Rock Band) and the Beatles’ business enterprise, Apple Corps Ltd. And, like anything involving the Fab Four, securing the deal was no small feat. But Ono tells EW exclusively that it makes perfect sense. “All of us are actually pretty hip, so we said yes,” she says. “I’m personally very excited. [The game] lets you participate in a way where you’re really [immersed in] the music. With so many young kids into the Beatles, it’s a start to a beautiful new page in [the band’s] history. Maybe they’ll start to make music and not just listen to it, and really understand what it’s about.”

The players involved are keeping mum on specifics, but rumors are
starting to spread about what the game might look like, how many tracks
it could include, and whether it will introduce new peripherals. On a
conference call to announce the deal, Apple and MTV would only detail
that the game will span the band’s entire career, with visuals
accompanying each musical turn, as EW previously reported. Since then, there has been talk of 45 songs (that won’t be available for download, according to Billboard),
and possibly a keyboard component, neither of which MTV would confirm.
But one longtime Beatles associate says you can count on it being
revolutionary. “When it comes out, it’s going to be like Sergeant Pepper’s,” predicts former Apple Records exec Kan Mansfield, who recently authored The White Book,
about his time as the Beatles’ U.S. liaison. “It’ll be something
different and totally innovative – what a Beatle product should be.”

But while the Beatles were long hailed for being ahead of their
time, the band has been surprisingly reluctant to enter the digital
age – none of their tracks are available for legal download anywhere on
the Internet, and if you were to buy The White Album on CD
today, it would essentially be the same product released in 1987. So
does their foray into the world of gaming, of all places, mean we could
finally see their catalog hit iTunes – or another digital platform, maybe
their own? – sometime before the next century?

Ono, who knows a thing or
two about reaching younger generations – she’s currently riding a No. 1
dance hit with “Give Peace A Chance” (The Remixes) – prefers not to comment on rumors of progress on that front. But some speculate there’s reason for optimism. “The Love show continues to sell to full capacity in Las Vegas, 30 million people watched American Idol’s Beatles night,
and now there’s this game,” says Martin Bandier, head of Sony/ATV Music
Pub­lishing, which controls more than 250 Beatles copyrights. “I think
there’s a changing wind – and that this will naturally lead to other
opportunities no one even thought about.”

The players involved are keeping mum on specifics, but rumors arestarting to spread about what the game might look like, how many tracksit could include, and whether it will introduce new peripherals. On aconference call to announce the deal, Apple and MTV would only detailthat the game will span the band’s entire career, with visualsaccompanying each musical turn, as EW previously reported. Since then, there has been talk of 45 songs (that won’t be available for download, according to Billboard),and possibly a keyboard component, neither of which MTV would confirm.But one longtime Beatles associate says you can count on it beingrevolutionary. “When it comes out, it’s going to be like Sergeant Pepper’s,” predicts former Apple Records exec Kan Mansfield, who recently authored The White Book,about his time as the Beatles’ U.S. liaison. “It’ll be somethingdifferent and totally innovative – what a Beatle product should be.”

But while the Beatles were long hailed for being ahead of theirtime, the band has been surprisingly reluctant to enter the digitalage – none of their tracks are available for legal download anywhere onthe Internet, and if you were to buy The White Album on CDtoday, it would essentially be the same product released in 1987. Sodoes their foray into the world of gaming, of all places, mean we couldfinally see their catalog hit iTunes – or another digital platform, maybetheir own? – sometime before the next century?

Ono, who knows a thing ortwo about reaching younger generations – she’s currently riding a No. 1dance hit with “Give Peace A Chance” (The Remixes) – prefers not to comment on rumors of progress on that front. But some speculate there’s reason for optimism. “The Love show continues to sell to full capacity in Las Vegas, 30 million people watched American Idol’s Beatles night,and now there’s this game,” says Martin Bandier, head of Sony/ATV MusicPub­lishing, which controls more than 250 Beatles copyrights. “I thinkthere’s a changing wind – and that this will naturally lead to otheropportunities no one even thought about.”