That’s right, THE Sgt. Pepper. If you’re looking for something more CRM-ish you might want to come back tomorrow. Or stick around, in a roundabout way this is as customer oriented as you can get.
The other night CBS broadcast a special about the Beatles’ 50th anniversary Ed Sullivan Show performance. The special was shot the day after the Grammys in the same hall and many of the music industry’s luminaries were there and many performed Beatles songs in tribute. Perhaps you saw the show?
At any rate, the last act was Paul and Ringo, the surviving Beatles, singing a few of their songs including tracks from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the album from 1967 that changed music, sold over 30 million copies, and garnered a slew of awards at the 1968 Grammys.
The songs they sang from the album included Paul’s rendition of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which he sang lead for on the album, and With a Little Help from My Friends, by Ringo reprising the role of Billy Shears, which he sang on the album.
So, here’s the question: Was this the first live performance of these songs by any of the Beatles ever? It might have been, because by 1967 when they were working on the album, the Beatles had given up live performances, preferring the technical luxuries of the studio and wanting to avoid the hassles of constant travel.
There have been lots of tributes to the album over the years and many recordings by other performers and as recently as 2009 the American band, Cheap Trick performed the whole album live. But I don’t find any reference to any part of the Beatles performing those songs live.
So was Sunday night’s 50th anniversary of the British Rock Invasion’s commencement also a premiere of sorts by the surviving Beatles of two classic songs?
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Baby Boom Flexes Muscles on iTunes
Tuesday’s announcement that Beatles song tracks are now available on iTunes has been one of the biggest positive announcements in music in some time. There are so many threads to tease apart that starting an article like this is challenging.
For once the industry doesn’t have to report declining sales figures and there is no record company suing its customers over intellectual property. Ironically, the songs in question are the darlings of the one population that still buys CDs and does not get involved (much) in pirating.
According to Apple Corps., the parent organization of the Apple Record company that the Beatles started all those years ago, the Fab Four sold about 600 million records, tapes and CDs prior to the Tuesday announcement. So the estates of John Lennon and George Harrison are not lacking and neither are the coffers of still rocking Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
No doubt, availability on iTunes will bring out many Boomers as well as their children to buy up songs that make up part of the sound track of a generation. Boomers will seize the opportunity to go digital and fill out their collections. But younger people seeking to learn about the roots of modern music have an avid interest in these chart topping songs and the albums they spring from.
The Beatles invented a brand of mainstream rock ‘n’ roll and the approaches and techniques they used are still invoked. The albums stand on their own and, so far, stand the test of time. They are works of art filled with audio sophistication that took then current day technology to the brink and energized the technical side of the music industry to up its game.
Better technology for recording and mixing as well as deeper thought about how to create a theme for and produce an album were inspired by iconic albums like Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. In retrospect, in the 1960s, the Beatles were to the music industry what the space program was to the budding high technology market.
No wonder then that as of Wednesday morning six Beatles songs are once again climbing the charts—this time the iTunes top one hundred downloads.
But this announcement also serves as a bookend for the Boomer generation. On the opposite end of the shelf was a concert in a rainy, muddy cow field in up state New York in 1969. Woodstock showed demographers and corporate America how much market power the generation commanded and for decades marketers would tap into that power to generate sales and profits. iTunes’ capture of the Beatles song book is, on one level, simply the latest example of that market power.