Music Lovers To Beatles: I'm Down(Loading)

Nearly a decade after iTunes first began selling music, that of arguably the greatest band ever – The Beatles – finally reached the digital world this week.

Timing overall was interesting, coming a year after EMI re-released The Beatles’ CD catalogue and just a couple of weeks after the 70th anniversary of John Lennon’s birth. The planets, you might say, were all in alignment – 30 years after Lennon’s tragic death and 40 years after the release of the band’s last record of new material (“Let it Be” in 1970).

Early returns on initial downloads and consumer preferences are particularly intriguing.  While many often cite John Lennon as the group’s true artistic genius, the top U.S. single is the George Harrison penned, “Here Comes The Sun.” In the UK, McCartney’s influence reigns supreme with “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude” the top 2 Beatles single downloads, along with the classic Isley Brothers cover of “Twist and Shout,” with John on lead vocals.

Also intriguing is that in a digital world where single downloads rule, as of this afternoon, 12 Beatles albums are in the Top 40 with three in the Top 10: Abbey Road” is #3, “The Beatles (White Album) is #9 and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is #10.  Looking more closely at the top 25, we find “1967-1970” is #11, “1962-1966” is #15, The Beatles Box Set is #16, “Rubber Soul” is #18, “Magical Mystery Tour” is #23 and “Revolver” is #25. Also, in the Top 40: “Let It Be” (#30), “A Hard Day’s Night” (#31) and “Please Please Me” (#40).

The takeaways here? Despite being traditionally ignored by the record industry, baby boomers and their contemporaries do still consume music and can be marketed to successfully  (especially when the product is top notch). Artists of all generations, meanwhile, understand they need to be where both their existing and potential fans are.