Whenever The Beatles are brought on to a new music platform, everyone makes a big deal out of it. Ads are plastered all over subway platforms, and the faces of the Fab Four take over the borders of every website you visit for a while. When they were first put on iTunes, they even released a Rock Band game made specifically for their easily masterable songs and made the creepiest commercial possible to promote it.
The problem is that while Spotify or iTunes will never really get their money’s worth for having the Beatles catalogue, the library will always have an enormous hole without their universally adored albums. I mean, how can you call yourself the leading source for music consumption without REVOLVER?!?! So no matter how much the royalties are, it’ll be worth having their discography for that reason alone.
Their anthologies, however, is a different story.
Only superfans really care about the anthologies, and most, if not all, of them already have those collections in physical and digital format already. It would be pretty careless of them not to at this point.
From what I’ve read, the main point of having the Beatles on all these new music outlets is to make sure younger generations know about this band. It’s a respectable objective that’ll probably wind up being obtained no matter where their songs are made available. The last time I checked, Delia’s was still selling Abbey Road shirts, so that has to mean something, right? That can’t just be because Tidal now has ‘Come Together’ at the ready.
To me, the main problem with how The Beatles are digested by a younger generation is how they’re sold to them as this infallible music collective. A lot of this has to do with them never having a sloppy comeback after their initial run, or their biggest supporters relegating their less developed early work as a sign of the times they were a part of, instead of stand-alone work that simply wasn’t up to snub.
This is where the anthologies can be key to getting rid of all that unnecessary luster. When you look at each one at first glance, it’s a daunting task. All three anthologies have over 50 songs on them apiece. But it’s not really meant to be listened through like an actual album. The listener can pick and choose at his or her leisure because there’s absolutely no structure to any of these recordings whatsoever.
What I think should be truly appealing to people is that most of these songs are unmastered rehearsals and very loose. You can hear banter being exchanged by each member before most tracks and stripped down piano/acoustic guitar versions of songs that were made into highly produced psychedelic treats. The recording quality on most of these tracks is reminiscent of the covers you see on YouTube by the barrelfull these days. But instead of a random teen from Wisconsin singing his lo-fi version of “Yesterday,” it’s actually Paul McCartney.
Despite there being absolutely no marketing machine behind the anthologies, it might be beneficial in a backwards way to have a readily available version of Beatles songs, completely stripped down, sans pretension, and more aligned with the minimalist style that’s popular today could be beneficial to the younger listener. Whether they know it or not, Beatles fans have created a wall that’s impenetrable for any dissenter. If you don’t like their work, you’re immediately dismissed. Perhaps being given work that’s less fixated upon could put less pressure on a new listener to immediately fall in love with what he or she is listening to. And being given a more humanized version of such a deified rock band could potentially help newer fans get into them.