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Principles of a Beatles-Based Business Model
by Alex Cosper (9/30/13)

See History of the Beatles U.S. Albums and Singles


Today the business world is transforming thanks to game changing innovative companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and Tesla Motors. Apple has become not just the leading tech company, but since 2011 it has been the most valuable publicly traded company in the world. Google is still king of the internet as well as the advertising industry. Facebook is becoming the new face of pop culture. Tesla recently made history with the highest ratings ever in the auto business for safety and efficiency, plus their stock is now nearly six times what it was earlier in the year. The common thread that ties these amazingly successful companies together can be summed up with a Beatles song title, which is "Revolution."

Apple, which has crafted its business model on the Beatles, is now the number one brand in the world, ending Coca-Cola's long run at the top, according to Interbrand. Google, another modern multimedia company, is now the number two brand. Both Apple and Google are unlike the typical "business as usual" model from last century. They both exhibit independence, innovation and a visionary determination to change the world. Interestingly, the Beatles were one of the earliest adopters of the multimedia industry when they founded Apple Records in 1968, a few years after the term "multimedia" entered the pop culture lexicon. Their dream was to create a company that allowed creative people to record music and make movies for free.

Another theme in which these companies "Come Together" is that they "Help" society. They've each changed the world and become number one in their industries. We can even add another company to this group, which is SolarCity, also run by Tesla's Elon Musk, who has proven that solar power can be a big winner. "Here Comes the Sun" appears to be an anthem for this fast rising industry that years of a "Long and Winding Road" that has finally led to low cost/high efficiency solar panels. The key to the success of each of these companies has been to "take a sad song / and make it better." Apple particularly rocked the pop culture world in September with the debut of iTunes Radio, attracting 11 million listeners and the new iPhone, which sold a surprising 9 million units its debut weekend. Meanwhile, Google made news by announcing that it will enter the health care business and explore ways to extend life.

The "Beatles-Based Business" (BBB) model isn't hard to understand, especially if you're very familiar with the band and know all their songs by heart. They remain the best selling band of all time and no one else even comes close, especially if you count all the bootlegs. Simply speaking, no other artist has sold over one billion units worldwide. They were even the best selling band of this century's first decade and almost eclipsed Eminem in sales. How does a band from five decades ago still remain so popular? If we analyze their success carefully, we can begin to understand the components that make up the BBB model. Those components include but are not limited to the following: independent, original, organic, innovative, imaginative, experimental, helpful, reflective, peaceful, friendly, insightful, intelligent, humorous, universal, spiritual, optimistic, visionary and colorful.

The list of Beatles qualities goes on and on, but here's a brief summary

Independent - they did things their way and even started their own label called Apple Records.
Original - starting in 1965 they quit doing covers and started releasing all original songs.
Organic - many of their songs were acoustic, such as "Yesterday," "Norwegian Wood" and "Blackbird."
Innovative - their albums were very inventive, as they explored new ideas in recording technology.
Imaginative - they created picturesque songs such as "Penny Lane"
Experimental - "Revolution 9" and "Tomorrow Never Knows" came from venturing into the unknown.
Helpful - "Help" and "With a Little Help From My Friends" are about people helping people.
Reflective - "In My Life" and "Yesterday" looked back at life and considered the value of loved ones.
Peaceful - "Revolution" and "All You Need Is Love" made it clear they wanted peaceful change.
Friendly - anthems such as "We Can Work It Out" and "Come Together" were friendly invitations.
Insightful - "I'm Looking Through You" and "Nowhere Man" reveal truth about average people.
Intelligent - "Within You, Without You" and "A Day In The Life" seek to see beyond illusions.
Humorous - "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and "Rocky Raccoon" told funny stories.
Universal - "Across the Universe" explores beyond Planet Earth.
Spiritual - "Within You, Without You" is a deep song about existence beyond the material world.
Optimistic - "Let It Be" assures "there will be an answer" while "Revolution" says "it's gonna be alright."
Visionary - "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "Fool On The Hill" deal with mind expansion.
Colorful - The album covers of Sgt. Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour and Abbey Road were multi-colored.

What we can learn from the Beatles about being #1

One of the main lessons we can learn about business from the Beatles is the art of storytelling. Many of their songs tell vivid stories about people such as "Mean Mr. Mustard," "Polythene Pam" and "Eleanor Rigby." It turns out websites that tell great stories are what search engines such as Google are really looking for. SEO isn't so much about specific techniques as it is about meaningful storytelling. Companies such as Apple and Tesla keep making the news with amazing storytelling about their products. Telsa, for example, recently made the news because founder Elon Musk announced he would be driving across the country in his electric Model S.

The Beatles catalogue relates to many current issues including health care. The song "Doctor Robert" is all about a doctor who works for the National Health Care system in the UK, where everyone is provided free health care when they need it. The system is funded by taxes but doesn't attempt to rip people off with over-priced drugs as in the case with commercialized medicine. Another engaging social issue is civil rights. Paul McCartney announced on a recent tour that the song "Blackbird" was written about the civil rights movement. Companies working to resolve these issues are advancing while those causing the problem are sinking.

So a lot can be learned from the Beatles-Based Business model about success. One important lesson is to admit your mistakes, which the Beatles have done many times. One of their mistakes early on was signing a deal with a publishing company called "Northern Songs" that gave control of their music to business people who flipped their catalogue to another company, who flipped it to another, then for awhile it ended up in the hands of Michael Jackson, who used the songs in commercials, which McCartney did not appreciate. Jackson made a profit on the songs but ended up deep in debt from self-indulgent spending at the time of his death.

The moral of the whole story is to be people-friendly first and not so materialistic. There are many bright spots to the story, as each of the Beatles became a multi-millionaire, even after their label Apple Records went bankrupt. The reason it collapsed was because the money wasn't managed well since they were so focused on creativity and helping other musicians. Yet much of that music survives and remains monumental in history. The parent company Apple Corps lives on and is owned by the surviving Beatles and widows. Interestingly, Apple Inc. the tech company now owns the Apple Corps green label logo and licenses it to Apple Corps.

As Steve Jobs once said "my model of management is the Beatles." He explained that their team work was greater than the sum of its parts, which was his inspiration for the company that changed the tech world. The current CEO Tim Cook has said in 2013 that he is maintaining the Beatles business model at Apple.




Bonus Beatles Insight


The Beatles story is a "Long and Winding Road" that inspires nostalgia, especially to "Get Back" to where you once belonged. The story started out as inviting as "I Want To Hold Your Hand." The energy they created was appealing to the "I Feel Fine" generation. It was your "Ticket to Ride" to be a "Day Tripper," "Paperback Writer," "Nowhere Man" or whatever you wanted to be. The Beatles introduced us to so many interesting characters such as "Eleanor Rigby," "Sgt. Pepper, "Lovely Rita," "Mr Kyte," "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam."

As the story unfolded, fans of Beatlemania began to realize that "All You Need Is Love" to live a happy life. So no matter where you go, whether it's "Strawberry Fields," "Penny Lane" or on a "Magical Mystery Tour," always remember that life goes on "Within You, Without You." Somehow that level of consciousness inspires people to "Let It Be."




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