2 - How much is each Beatle worth?

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2 - How much is each Beatle worth?


What if The Beatles took Apple Corp. public on NASDAQ and called it “Beatles, Inc?” What would its market capitalization be? What percentage of the shares would each of the band members receive for their overall contributions to the music and legacy of the group?


There is the music of The Beatles, and then there is their legacy. The music (the 225 or so recorded songs) is just one component of the total value of the global brand. Their legacy is everything else other than the music. The four Beatles equally own The Beatles brand, but contributed in different ways to the musical legacy.


The mainstream, historical view is that “the songwriting team of Lennon and McCartney was the driving force behind The Beatles.” The problem with this perspective is that they were musicians, not poets. Ultimately, it was how the song was performed and recorded in the studio, and then pressed onto the vinyl that constituted its artistic and commercial value. Nobody gets up and dances to the lyrics. Twist and Shout is no less a Beatles classic just because it was not written by Lennon-McCartney.

George Martin: 7%

For his contribution to making their music great, producer George Martin should get 7% of the shares.

Of his influence on The Beatles, Ian MacDonald wrote:

“They evolved a new way of making records in which preplanned polyphony was replaced by an unpredictable layering of simultaneous sound-information, transformed by signal-distortion and further modified during the processes of mixing and editing.”

Mark Hertsgaard points out in A Day In The Life: The Music and Artistry of The Beatles:

“It was Martin who urged The Beatles to ‘think symphonically’ to create and structure pop songs that borrowed the grand forms and techniques found in symphonies, but without sacrificing the urgency and clarity of rock and roll. He was a colleague whose enthusiasm and

technical expertise help them realize their grandest artistic visions.”

Ringo: 20%

Ringo would get a 20% equity position for his musical contributions, and for his persona.

His musicianship has yet to be recognized. Beatles scholar Ian Macdonald claims Ringo was “the father of modern drumming.” He was the glue that would keep their music banded together to create the “oneness” of their signature sound.

Ringo had near perfect tempo. He could keep flawless time which enabled him to play odd time signatures and provided the canvas (the backbeat) for nearly every song. If his timing fluctuates, it invariably does so in the right place at the right time, keeping the right atmosphere going on the track. He instinctively knew how to interpret the structure of a song: to take whatever music was presented and come up with that meaningful background for it to come alive. He never played the drums; he “served the music”.

Veteran Beatle scholar Wilfrid Mellers writes: “As a drummer, he’s basic and sound rather than brilliant. He keeps things going, powerfully and affirmatively, but admits that when anything untoward or especially imaginative is required he ‘does what the others tell me’.

His relative deficiency in flair emphasizes both his dependence on and necessity to his colleagues.”

There is no question his unique persona was an integral part of the group’s global brand. Loved by all age groups, his extremely friendly personality provided the balance and “oneness” of the group’s persona as a collective whole. He was the last one to join before it took off. He completed them.


George: 20%

George would get 20% of the shares for being the group’s lead guitarist, for his backup vocals and harmonies, and his contributions to their image and legacy.

Although never actually formally referred to as The Beatles’ “lead guitarist”– his musicianship is felt on nearly every song.

With nothing much to work with he would always provide brilliant counterpoints, melody line, guitar riffs and hooks which breathed life into McCartney and Lennon’s compositions. He provided the harmonious vocal backdrop that made McCartney and Lennon’s songs great. Along with Ringo’s contributions, he was the glue that provided the “oneness” of their unique sound. As Lennon and McCartney drifted apart, his guitar work still put the group’s signature sound into each of their songs.

George’s search for spirituality and a higher meaning of life was a key component of The Beatle legacy. He singlehandedly bridged East and West, and created the landscape for a vast array of movements and ideologies in the 1970s – based on Eastern concepts. His legacy was the very essence and meaning of the entire Beatles’ legacy.


John: 23%

John gets 23% for being co-lead songwriter and vocalist. He was a gifted songwriter and an even better “singer-songwriter”. He was a fair guitarist and piano player – but not great. His vocal contribution backing up McCartney’s or Harrison’s lead vocals was minimal.

Mark Hertsgaard writes in A Day in The Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles:

“As instrumentalists, McCartney, Harrison and Starr were in a different league than Lennon. His contribution to the group was something else altogether – a wild, searching, profound poetic sensibility that just happened to express itself most eloquently through music.”

In the early years, the group’s image was defined by Lennon: his captivating stance with legs spread apart with the camera focused on his high cheek bones and smile. His greatest contributions were his vocals on nearly all of the group’s best songs from 1963-1966 as these

three years were critical to their early success. His greatest days were in their first act. McCartney’s enormous contributions were in their second half, as he had not yet blossomed into the brilliant lyrist, melodist and arranger in the 1965-1966 period that he would become.

Yet it’s doubtful that most of Lennon’s best songs would have turned out so great had he not had McCartney at his side for assistance in lyrics and arrangement, and Ringo and George to record the music.

George Martin said: “McCartney would help John musically, because I think that he had a greater understanding of the theory of music and harmony.”

Ian McDonald opined that they could have survived Lennon’s departure, but not McCartney’s: “Lennon knew that while McCartney could be superficial, he was also the better musician and melodist and, when pushed, could rival and sometimes surpass him as an expressive writer.”


McCartney 30%

McCartney’s contribution to the band’s music and legacy is worth 30% of the shares.

He was co-lead songwriter, melodist and vocalist, the group’s arranger, rock music’s most innovative bass player, and a vital component of the recorded music, both as a musician and as a producer. He was by far the most dominant member of the group in the second half of their career.

McCartney would also get credit for his incredible PR skills and the extremely upbeat, positive face/persona he gave the group. He defined the “love and peace” legacy of the decade.

He led the battle to protect the integrity and legacy of The Beatles music and along with Neil Aspinall planned and executed the Anthologies project, and then the phenomenally successful comeback of The Beatles brand. His 50-year-plus personal legacy and image and reputation – matched only by his brilliant track record as one of the world’s most successful music publishers, would make him the single most valuable asset of “Beatles Inc.”

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