This month marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first album, ‘Please Please Me’. A few weeks back I had written 10 Business Lessons from the Beatles over at Amazon’s Money & Markets blog to commemorate the occasion and the amount of email I received was overwhelming. Something about this band and its legacy simply will not fade away – people remain endlessly fascinated with the Beatles and people of every generation eventually discover the music and the legend for themselves.
Business-wise, a lot of the what the band had done was utterly without precedent at the time. There were no such things as music videos or worldwide tours or bands branching out into artist management, merchandising, retailing or crossing over into film. The story of the Beatles also offered us plenty of cautionary examples – from cutting horrendous deals out of desperation to losing control of image and identity.
This week, we were treated to something truly special at Bloomberg.com – a full-blown interview with Peter Brown, the 75-year-old former business manager for the Beatles during their 1960’s rise and break-up. Brown was there for it all and, apart from his book, rarely talks about those days in the media. Eric Roston sat with him twice for this amazing piece…
My main question for Brown: What was the Beatles’ business model?
Looking back, two themes prevail: Doing whatever they could to get contracts, and doing whatever they could to make the most of tiny royalty percentages and avoid the U.K.’s “super-tax” on wealthy people.
And the answer? There was no business model.
“Everything we did was unknown territory,” said Brown.
Please find time for the whole thing today, you will love it: