09/09/09: "Phony Beatlemania Has Bitten the Dust"

The Beatles: Rock Band

Beatles fans have Rock Band to thank for creating the massive cash incentive for the band and label to agree to cds reissues. The settlement over the name Apple between the Beatles and the computer company was the first big legal step in making this historic day happen. And Rock Band’s creative spark seems to have come from within the band – George’s son Dhani got it rolling a year or two ago. It’s a great day for The Beatles, and their music!

The reissue of The Beatles catalog on cd this week was an amazing experience for the world’s music fans.  For a generation, the best music content ever created was impaired and unable to keep up with the times, due to a lack of involvement with technology.  The Beatles will be impaired until they make their music available for download, but in uniting their music with the video game Rock Band and simultaneously releasing what are probably the last important cds to ever be made, The Beatles stepped out of the 20th century and into the 21st.

Taking a page from U2’s playbook of associating a release with a technology-oriented gimmick (Blackberry for “Magnificent”; iLike for recent compilation b-sides; iPod for “Elevation”), the Beatles latched on to Rock Band which is a coup demographically too. 

Now parents and kids will participate physically in learning this music together. As my friend Randy Dry – a major Beatles scholar – pointed out, it’s an older generation “passing down” its great cultural statement to a younger one to carry on into the future.

“Here Comes the Sun” on Rock Band:

Apple Computers seized the opportunity that rumors of the Beatles music being added to iTunes to announce upgrades to the iPod, and even launched a aptly titled version 9 which incorporates some DRM freedom with the Home Sharing function.  The Beatles themselves did an upgrade to their home page as well.

Our friend Dhani Harrison was part of the inspiration for the game being created, but even Sean Lennon did his part this week by creating a bit of Lennon-esque controversy.

The music of the Beatles will never die, and will be an endless source of inspiration.  Danger Mouse proved that with his Grey Album remix combining the White Album with Jay-Z’s Black Album.  Any reinterpretation based on this music is sure to be a success, and that includes Rock Band.  I have played it and it was a blast.

As someone who specializes in the adult/eclectic area in music marketing, it was interesting to see how various entities in the relatively non-commercial world got behind The Beatles’ massive commercial effort this week.  But it makes sense – even the most erudite or well-off 17 year old isn’t going to be making the purchase — the games will be passed down from one generation to the other, both practically and in a spiritual, metaphysical sense too.

Recommended purchase links can be found here:

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