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Beatles Rank Among Top ITunes Sellers After First Week

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Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. said digital downloads of Beatles songs and albums rank among the top sellers on its iTunes online media store after going on sale last week.

Customers purchased 450,000 albums and 2 million songs since the group’s music became available Nov. 16 on iTunes, Tom Neumayr, a spokesman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, said today.

Apple began offering Beatles songs through iTunes on Nov. 16, ending an almost decade-long stalemate with the best-selling group. Albums are priced at $12.99 and individual tracks cost $1.29. A $149 set of all Beatles albums, including greatest hits compilations, a documentary and 1964 concert video, ranks No. 33 on iTunes.

“Abbey Road,” originally released in 1969, is the ninth-most downloaded album on iTunes, according to a ranking posted at Apple’s website. “Here Comes the Sun” is the band’s biggest-selling track, ranking No. 56 on the iTunes chart.

The absence of the Beatles has been the highest-profile hole in the catalog of Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs’s digital store. The band had kept its focus on albums, tapes and then compact discs, even as a decline in CD sales sent artists to the Web. Formed about 50 years ago, the Beatles have remained a top-seller, with customers buying more than 30 million albums in the last decade, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Catalog Owners

Apple’s iTunes is the exclusive digital retailer of Beatles music into 2011, London-based EMI Group Ltd., the band’s record company, said last week without providing specific dates. Apple may spark digital download sales, which slowed as a result of less spending by consumers ages 35 and older, Russ Crupnick, an analyst at NPD Group Inc., said last week.

Ownership of the Beatle’s music catalog rests with various parties, including surviving band members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison. EMI, Sony Corp. and the estate of Michael Jackson control some rights.

Copyrights for some of the Beatles earliest songs will begin expiring at the end of 2012, 50 years after “Love Me Do” was released.

Apple, the maker of Macintosh computers and iPod media players, rose $6.07, or 2 percent, to $314.80 at 4:29 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have climbed 49 percent this year. Closely held EMI is controlled by Terra Firma Capital Partners Ltd.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net;