How did The Beatles change the music business?

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25 October
10:24
October
2016

They changed the music business in many, many different ways, but the initial impact was to make the UK a global force to be reckoned with as a recording industry. Previously British labels were really just satellite labels of American ones. The money that came in from The Beatles and the knock-on effect on other artists meant that the UK, instead of being a place where you made records that just sold in the UK and possibly the Commonwealth, was now a place where you made records that potentially could sell all over the world, particularly in America.

They also changed the Parlophone label specifically because it was previously known for comedy records and gimmicky records. They had Bernard Cribbins, Charlie Drake, The Goons and so on. That was British comedy for a British and Commonwealth audience. 

To give you an idea of how little was expected of a British company in those days, Capitol Records, which was the American arm of EMI, passed on The Beatles’ first two singles. So the first few Beatles releases in America came out on an independent label, Vee-Jay. After that had happened, whenever anything came in from the UK they would at least listen to it and consider it. Britain was suddenly this huge industry with lots of money sloshing around it. 

The Beatles were pioneers – and like most pioneers they had many arrows in their hats. They were doing so many things for the first time. They were assailed, particularly in America, with offers for merchandise and it's well known that Brian Epstein didn't know how to do the deals because no one had done it before. 

Today, Britain is the world’s second biggest exporter of music after America. That all started in 1962 with The Beatles.

They were, likewise, pioneers in studios. Previously if was all white coats and three-hour sessions, but The Beatles completely broke that whole thing. They were allowed to give their creativity full reign. But that didn't just apply to The Beatles from then on. It knocked down the walls for everyone else.

Because they became "bigger than Jesus", they were able to start renegotiating their contracts and start raising the bar for everyone else. The people who really did capitalise on that were acts like Led Zeppelin and Cream. 

It made Britain very, very powerful and we still feel the reverberations today. After America, Britain is still the biggest exporter of music around the world. That started in 1962 with The Beatles. There is no doubt about it. You have to wonder if The Beatles had not knocked that door down, would we have that advantage we have now? To an extent we would have had a small amount of it because we speak the same language as the most powerful country in the world. Or, rather, they speak our language. But we wouldn't be on the level we are now. 

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