The Beatles: A Business Model No One Saw Coming
Business advice is abundant - books, workshops, and the Internet, but - the Beatles? That’s an odd choice. Nevertheless, when you look deeply and analyze…
Business advice is available from many sources - books, workshops, and the Internet, but - the Beatles? That’s an odd choice.
But the truth is, when you look deeply and analyze it, it doesn’t seem so different. If analyze how a group of artists marketed their art far better than anyone ever did, then maybe the best business advice is much like nature, it exists everywhere.
The Fab Four (as they were called by the fans) followed a classic business model.
In any enterprise, one has to be careful about choosing their business partners before starting the business and that is exactly what they nailed. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were smart about the people they chose to work with. They possessed an enormous personal charm and their personalities seemed to work perfectly together.
Not only that, but they were also extremely gifted in several areas from being great singers to excellent songwriters as well as great performers. But it just didn’t stop there, their ambitions were high up in the sky. They wanted to be bigger than Elvis Presley, who was the biggest artist of their time.
They already checked out some of the things that are so big, on the list. They were a well-qualified set of individuals, who worked well together with high ambitions. The only thing that’s left? Marketing themselves well.
It was November 1961 when Epstein decided to take in a musical group he had been hearing about. He was immediately struck by their music, their beat and their sense of humour on stage. When Brian Epstein came on board as their manager, they were wise enough to give up a certain amount of control over the way they looked, the way they presented themselves and to allow him to get them ready for their close-ups. He put them into the matching suits and began to shop them to record labels in London- all things that they would never have been able to accomplish on their own.
They did have a certain natural flair for creating an impression on people. They all sported the same haircut, the logo on the drumhead and the way they shook their heads when they were singing, even down to their sense of humour and their accent.
This went a long way in helping the Beatles create an image, a trademark of sorts that set them apart from other bands of the era.
That was really a huge business decision, even though it may not seem that way back then to a group of teenage musicians.
Thus now Beatles was no more just a band, it had become a brand! And one of the most important elements of this brand was the sheer creative joy the Beatles shared with their audiences.
Even after the success of Please, Please Me, a number one album in Britain, it took the band another year to hit the U.S. charts. It's important to note that Capitol Records, the American subsidiary of their British label, refused to issue any of their music.
What becomes important here is that instead of arguing about the album's merits or giving up on conquering America, the band kept recording new songs and sending them to Capitol. Finally in 1964, after a news report about Beatle mania in Britain, Capitol released “I Want to Hold Your Hand," which became the Beatles first number one hit in the United States.
Working together, if not exactly holding hands, was instrumental to the band's success.
This is something that is easier to achieve in a group of four, than a group of say even forty. Almost every firm today deals with issues of unproductivity and underperformance arising out of the lack of compliance between two parties, whether individuals or departments, it causes a huge waste of resources.
The period between 1964 and 1966 is considered the most important phase for The Beatles, as it was the time when the band members were all lined up together, with a common purpose and thus could deliver spectacular results. This was the time when they started touring the world, released two albums a year and made several movies.
Another important business lesson from the Beatles was to not just admit your mistakes and learn from them, but also to not be afraid to break the norm. The group reportedly disliked touring but for several years, it was its primary source of income and consumed much time and energy. So, the Beatles steadily developed other revenue streams from royalties and films, eventually abandoning the concert circuit altogether in favour of more creative studio work.
So while it seems unexpected, a closer analysis of each successful undertaking is in fact not a mystery at all, but a carefully brewed concoction of, talent, hard work and something that is very often brilliant marketing.