A rolling beatle gathers most coverage

There’s been a flurry of excitement about a couple of bands recently. You probably saw some of the coverage, it seemed to be everywhere. It dominated news channels and papers, even radio stations got pretty animated.

Unfortunately these bands were The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Both are celebrating 50th anniversaries – one with a ‘new’ compilation and tour, the other just basking in the continual reflected glow of admiration that is given for their status of ‘national treasures’.

Andy Warhol once suggested that in the future everyone would have their fifteen minutes of fame; very few will get fifty years of it though. In fact is there anyone currently making music that will survive and be venerated fifty years from now?

Furthermore can you think of anyone – or any single piece of work – created in the last twenty years that will survive the ravages of time and still be praised five decades after its creation? There may be a few but will the bands or artists who created them still be able to fill arenas and stadia worldwide in 2032 and beyond?
It could be argued that The Beatles and The Stones were pioneers at the vanguard of teen dominance with the good fortune to be at their peak when the rock n’ roll generation came of age - a generation that possibly still rules over popular culture.

There may be other issues at hand of course, such as the current difficulties in breaking and sustaining an act globally. As I’ve often reflected it’s easier to find a route to market these days and consequently you’re competing against so many others. When you look at acts having success on both sides of the Atlantic, who do you see – Adele, Rihanna, Mumford & Sons, One Direction? Which – if any – of them do you predict could still be making an impact in forty years time?

The work ethic and release schedule of The Beatles (previously mentioned here and here) is a defining factor of their success and longevity – something that they were only able to achieve with a supportive record company and less strenuous promotional responsibilities to acts of today. Indeed it is important to note that The Beatles barely toured once they were successful – an option not available to any acts in 2012 now that live revenue is more important than royalties.

You might argue that The Beatles paid their ‘dues’, that no-one takes such a risk in 2012 (going to Hamburg for months on end, playing 98 consecutive nights) that everyone wants it now and on their terms. This could be true but I’d imagine it frustrates many young musicians that they don’t only have to compete with other new acts; they’re also competing against 50 years of pop history. It’s a hard life.