Beatles on iTunes? Nope. MP3? Yes.

Nope, you still can’t buy the Beatles on Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes. But next month you will finally be able to buy the band’s music in MP3 form, provided you’re willing to plunk down a bunch of cash.

$279.99, exactly.

What do you get for that? The same thing the band and EMI Music Group are already selling for $219: All of the band’s music, in a remastered stereo mix. But if you’re willing pay extra, you can now get the same tunes bundled up in a single USB stick. Like so:

beatles usb

People who care about this stuff will be pleased to know the files will be available in both FLAC and MP3 formats. More details here, although there does seem to be some confusion about whether there are 30,000 of these puppies or just a couple hundred. Either way, they go on sale December 7th in the UK and the next day in the US.

By the way, if you’re the kind of Beatles fan who considers plunking down more than $200 for music you already own, then you’ve mostly like seen this. But it’s free to everyone, thanks to YouTube:

Apple’s iTunes Pitch: TV for $30 a Month

appletvWould you pay $30 a month to watch TV via iTunes?

That’s the pitch Apple has been making to TV networks in recent weeks. The company is trying to round up support for a monthly subscription service that would deliver TV programs via its multimedia software, multiple sources tell me.

Apple (AAPL) isn’t tying the proposed service to a specific piece of hardware, like its underwhelming Apple TV box, or its long-rumored tablet/slate device. Instead, it is presenting the offer as an extension of its iTunes software, which already has a huge installed base: A year ago, Apple said it had 65 million iTunes customer accounts.

A so-called “over the top” service could theoretically rival the ones most consumers already  buy from cable TV operators — if Apple is able to get enough buy-in from broadcast and cable TV programmers.

That’s a big if: Apple has told industry executives it wants to launch the service early next year, but I have yet to hear of a single programmer that has made a firm commitment to the company, which has tasked iTunes boss Eddy Cue with promoting the idea.

But industry executives believe that if anyone jumps first, it will be Disney (DIS), since CEO Bob Iger has shown a willingness to experiment with Apple and iTunes in the past: In 2005, Disney was the first player to sell its programming on iTunes, via a la carte downloads. And Apple CEO Steve Jobs is Disney’s largest single shareholder, a result of Disney’s 2006 acquisition of Jobs’ Pixar animation studio. Apple didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Network executives I’ve talked to are intrigued with the idea — they are eager to find new revenue streams — but are also wary, for multiple reasons.

Cable networks, for instance, don’t want to threaten existing relationships and subscription fees from cable providers like Comcast (CMCSA). And programmers are also worried about the effect a subscription service would have on advertising revenue: Even if the service didn’t distribute TV programs until after their initial air date, that could cut into ratings, which now measure viewership over the course of several days.

But the move to deliver TV and movies over the Web is already well under way. Netflix (NFLX), for instance, already bundles free streaming movie and tv along with itsdisc-by-mail subscription service. iTunes and Amazon (AMZN) rent movies on a one-off basis, and Google’s YouTube (GOOG) is trying out the same thing. And Hulu, the joint venture between GE’s NBC (GE), News Corp.’s Fox (NWS) and ABC, is figuring out how to launch a paid service that may include rentals, paid downloads or subscriptions.

So Apple’s proposed subscription service, which the company has floated in the past, is no longer a huge stretch. Says one executive briefed on the company’s plans: “I think they might get it right this time.”

UTube: 10 Million Streams For Bono and Co.’s Live Show

u2 youtubeWhat happens when one of the biggest bands in the world Webcasts a live concert on the world’s biggest video site?

You get a lot of video streams. Close to 10 million, says YouTube, which says Sunday’s live Webcast of U2’s Rose Bowl concert was the single largest event it has streamed so far.

Granted, Google’s (GOOG) video site only started streaming live events last year, and doesn’t do it very often. But this is was a pretty good muscle-flexing event, and by all accounts it went pretty well — I read some gripes about the site limiting transfer speeds, but many more raves about the quality of picture and sound.

That 10 million number, spread out over 2+ hours, doesn’t really tell us how many people watched the concert, or how many did so concurrently. YouTube’s first attempt at live streaming, its weird “YouTube Live” concert/award show, may have attracted a peak audience of 700,000.

For some context, consider that last week’s episode of “The Mentalist” on CBS (CBS) drew 11.8 million viewers, which made it the 20th-ranked show in the US. But the fact that YouTube is even playing in those leagues gives you a sense of the site’s reach.

And recall that YouTube boasted this month that it is now streaming more than 1 billion streams per day, which means that the overwhelming majority of its users were watching something other than Bono and company on Sunday.

You can see an amazingly high quality version of the concert here, though it isn’t embeddable. But here’s a clip of a fake U2 concert from a couple of years ago.

Two Yahoo Music Veterans Resurface with DashBox, a Service You’ll Never Use (Unless You’re a Music Pro)

dashboxDigital music entrepreneurs Dave Goldberg and Bob Roback, who built up Launch Media in the 1990s and ran Yahoo’s music group for much of this decade, are trying their hands at tunes again.

This time, though, they’re not trying to convince consumers to pay for music, or asking advertisers to subsidize it. Instead, they’re trying to act as a middleman between labels and publishers who own music, and advertisers, Hollywood and other folks who want to use the tunes for commercial purposes.

Via Twain Media, their personal investment company, they’ve purchased a smallish startup called mSoft and renamed it Dashbox. They’re describing Dashbox as “subscription service that aggregates and manages all of your production music and sound effects”. The idea is to link up people who need to buy music for commercial reasons with rights holders, who are often scattered and hard to track down.

Roback will take the CEO spot at renamed company; Goldberg, who has a day job running SurveyMonkey, will be chairman. The company hasn’t disclosed the terms of mSoft purchase, but people familiar with the transaction tell me it was under $10 million.

Roback and Goldberg founded Launch Media in 1994, and sold it to Yahoo (YHOO) in 2001; the two stayed on to run Yahoo Music until 2007. Earlier this year, Golberg invested in and took over SurveyMonkey, an online survey coordinator.

Goldberg is one of many former digital music executives I’ve talked to who thinks the music business is fundamentally broken, so at first blush it’s a tiny bit surprising to see him back in it again.

But he and Roback are essentially investing in an entirely different industry — it’s a business-to-business market that really hasn’t been affected much by the digital revolution. If you want to use a song in your TV show, you can’t steal it via BitTorrent or stream it for free on Spotify.

Nor has the digital evolution affected the industry’s infrastructure, which remains pretty ancient. Music supervisors for TV shows and movies still end up resorting to faxes and phone calls to track down tunes they’d like to use.

So there are some obvious opportunities for someone who can amass scale and decrease friction here. It may not be as sexy as providing consumers with all free music they want, but it may end up being more profitable.

Jeff Bezos, Spark Capital, Bet on Aviary, a Web-Based Would-Be Adobe

aviaryLast week, Jeff Bezos made $2 billion in one day, courtesy of a massive spike in Amazon (AMZN) shares. What will he do with the extra dough?

Perhaps plow it into more startups like Aviary, a Long Island-based design software company.

Bezos, via his Bezos Expeditions fund, has followed up an 2009 investment in the company with another slug of cash. It’s part of a $7 million Series B round led by Spark Capital, best known in these parts as the guys who have made a very big bet on Twitter — which Bezos also invested in.

If you’re sick of hearing about Web startups with just a vaguest sense of a business plan, Aviary may be a refreshing change. It is trying to make money by selling cheap, Web-based alternatives to popular, expensive, design software, primarily the stuff that Adobe (ADBE) sells, like Photoshop and Illustrator. Granted, it doesn’t make much money yet: It only began selling $24.95 subscriptions to its software suite earlier this year.

Down the line, Aviary also imagines that it will be able to create an online marketplace where the creative types that use its software to bid on work assignments. Sort of like eBay (EBAY) meets Craigslist meets Etsy meets Amazon’s own Mechanical Turk.

Here’s the full press release:

Aviary Secures $7 Million in Series B Financing Led by Spark Capital

Provider of Creative Application Suite in the Cloud Makes Creation Accessible to All and Advances the Growing Digital Economy

LONG ISLAND, New York (October 26, 2009) – Aviary, Inc., a pioneer of a creative application suite in the cloud, today announced that it has received $7 million in Series B financing led by Spark Capital, with participation from existing investors, including Bezos Expeditions, a personal investment company of Jeff Bezos. With a suite of digital creation and editing software available as an online service, Aviary offers a simple and cost-effective solution for creators of all genres – from graphic design to audio editing – to express their creative talents and participate in the burgeoning market for digital goods. In conjunction with the investment, Mo Koyfman of Spark Capital will be joining Aviary’s board of directors.

“Aviary’s robust suite of online creative tools is fundamentally democratizing digital creation. Whereas the market for digital goods was once reserved exclusively for creators using proprietary desktop software, Aviary is delivering creative applications that allow anyone with a browser to participate,” said Koyfman. “And by doing so in the cloud, Aviary allows for seamless online creation, collaboration, distribution and ultimately monetization previously not possible. The Aviary model has the potential to exponentially increase the number of creators and collaborators contributing to the digital economy.”

Until now, the digital creation market has been largely dominated by desktop software solutions which are often cost prohibitive and involve complicated interfaces. By contrast, Aviary offers a powerful creative toolset in the cloud that enables professional and amateur creators alike to easily create their own digital works. The basic Aviary suite is available for free to users and includes an image editor, vector editor, audio editor and more. Users can also upgrade to the pro suite to gain commercial features such as unlimited private storage, as well as collaboration and community enhancements. For more information, visit

“We are disrupting the status quo by eliminating the long-held barriers to digital creation and giving creators the tools they need to create, market and monetize their vision,” said Avi Muchnick, founder & CEO of Aviary, Inc. “We are extremely excited to have Spark Capital on board. Their broad-ranging internet, software and consumer experience will be a tremendous asset to us in furthering our mission to make creation accessible to creators of all genres.”