The prime limit was The Beatles, the one group that preferred to keep their releases restricted to CDs, DVDs and now Blu-rays. They later let down their guard a bit by allowing Apple Computers’  ITunes to make their catalogue available for downloading at a cost per track or album.

The only Beatles tracks available for streaming have been interviews and material recorded in 1963 or before, as per Europe’s rule that songs enter the public domain after 50 years — the group has no control over these, at least, so far. The streaming material includes regular studio tracks, songs recorded live and their early demos.


The Eagles were also resistant to streaming, but finally relented in 2013. The issue for them was the royalties given to artists by iTunes.

Some major artists, groups and even labels have joined the streaming roster this year, chief among them AC/DC, who were extremely resistant in the past.

“Previous to 2012, the band had expressed concern over the effect that breaking an album up into individual tracks might have on listener experience,” said a Time magazine article from this past summer.

This could be a problem with pay-per-track downloading, but not with streaming, for which you only pay a monthly subscription fee. Listeners can hear a whole album in sequence without financial worry.

Another major addition was former Beatle George Harrison’s solo output. including the three-LP All Things Must Pass and other albums. As mentioned above, The Beatles have not officially entered the streaming realm, and one would assume this would apply to the solo Beatles as well.

Not so. George’s stuff is available, as is Paul McCartney’s newly remastered and expanded albums, John Lennon’s solo albums and 2010 box set, and many, but not all, of Ringo Starr’s albums. What is available is his early 1970s Apple Records albums (his best, especially Ringo, the 1973 album that featured all four Beatles, although not all on any one track) and his most recent stuff. But not his 1980’s albums at all.

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney

Speaking of Apple Records, for a good while, none of the non-Beatles artists on that label were on Rdio, at least in Canada. I did see albums by Badfinger on Rdio U.S. years ago. Now those artists are available in Canada too, not as Apple albums, but as Parlophone Catalogue output. Curious, as Parlophone was the Beatles’ original UK label, and is now part of Warner Music, while the rest of EMI is now owned by Universal Music.

A very significant recent addition to the streaming realm is an entire label — Studio One. For reggae fans, this is a godsend. A whopping 108 albums were added to Rdio’s site on one day, Oct. 30 of this year. For enthusiasts who don’t want to buy loads of reggae CDs, it fills a major gap. The earliest material from Bob Marley and the Wailers, John Holt and others mainly known to diehards are all here. Up to Oct. 30, Rdio’s reggae catalogue was dominated by albums and compilations coming out of Trojan (distributed by the British Sanctuary label), which has a massive amount of CDs in its own right, including numerous 2 and 3-CD sets profiling artists, themes and eras, like ska, rocksteady, lovers rock and many, many others.

John Holt

John Holt

In light of all this news, it’s becoming increasingly clear — as I’ve pointed out several times, that CDs are becoming superfluous.

Except for those by The Beatles, of course.