It’s a popular trivia question at your local pub night.
“Who owns the rights to the Beatles’ catalogue of music?”
Up until very recently, the answer would have been either Michael Jackson, the estate of Michael Jackson or Sony/ATV Music Publishing. After a 30+ year battle over the rights to the Beatles back catalogue, McCartney has finally reached a settlement with Sony/ATV.
One of the funniest stories in the history of rock and roll deals with how Michael Jackson came to acquire the Beatles back-catalogue in the first place. One suggestion by Paul McCartney that the music publishing business was lucrative set MJ on a path that ultimately led to his acquisition of the Beatles music. This story has been well-documented over the years.
This move begs the question: “will the Beatles back catalogue continue to be relevant over the years?” More simply put: “do kids, teenagers and young adults care about the Beatles?” The answer is yes and there are several factors that have helped the Beatles stay relevant.
The Beatles: Rock Band
Harmonix in collaboration with Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, Olivia Harrison and Apple Corps released The Beatles: Rock Band in 2009. The game was one of the first spots where the band’s music could be heard on a digital platform. It also included virtual depictions of some of the Beatles most famous performances like their first U.S. performance on the Ed Sullivan Show and performance atop the Apple Corps Headquarters. The game also included special Beatles-inspired instruments like Lennon’s Rickenbacker 325 guitar.
Rock Band is a very popular party game and in some cases The Beatles: Rock Band may have been the first exposure to some of the Beatles deeper cuts and famous performances for a younger generation of music lovers. The game also had a very high level of detail, making you feel like a member of the band from the comfort of your living room.
McCartney (75) and Starr (77) still tour and make new music
Both remaining Beatles are approaching 80 years of age, but that hasn’t stopped them from performing and making new music. Ringo Starr’s latest album, Give Me Love, releases in the fall. However, Ringo and Paul’s new rock albums may only appeal to their existing base. Paul McCartney has kept himself and by extension, the Beatles, relevant by collaborating with some of the biggest stars in the world. In the past few years, Sir Paul has released several collaborations with Kanye West and Rihanna, for instance.
Their music is (now) available everywhere
We now take for granted the ease of listening to the Beatles catalogue but even five years ago, it wasn’t that simple. They only released their music on all major streaming services less than two years ago.
In addition to their older tunes being made available, the band’s music continues to be remastered, remixed and/or re-released. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was re-released in May ahead of the 50th anniversary of the album.
The Beatles are still a staple in pop culture
Without mentioning even talking about new music, it’s impossible to avoid the Beatles in pop culture. Their songs are covered on TV (on the Voice and Glee, for example), McCartney and Starr often appear on television (like on Jimmy Fallon) and their music is featured in countless commercials.
Not only that, but parents musical tastes often transfer to their kids…
Even though some of these kids may not know every detail about the band, they know enough – which proves without a doubt that the Beatles have staying power, even after almost 60 years after their debut.