Thursday, May 09, 2013

The rising cost of the rights to Beatles recordings

It turns out that most of the people I work with have never seen The Prisoner TV series.

Granted, many of my co-workers are not native-born and so were unlikely to discover the show via PBS fundraisers like I did. And they were pretty skeptical when I tried to explain Rover to them:
(totally excited to turn on Prisoner virgins) 
...and there's this giant bubble that patrols the Village. 
A what? Did you say "giant bubble"? 

Yes. This was the sixties. Just go with it. It was really a weather balloon.  

And you say it "patrolled" this village?
Yes! It would bounce around and keep a watch for anybody who was unmutual. Or sometimes it would be summoned. Like out of the water. Number 2 would go "Orange Alert" and then one of his flunkies would press a button or whatever and it would come out of the water and chase after people. Sometimes it would kill them, sometimes it would knock them out, and sometimes it would just, like herd them. 
"Number 2?" 
He was the leader of the Village.  
Who was Number 1? The bubble? 
No of course not. The bubble was just their, like, watchdog. They even called it "Rover." 
Did it bark? 
No of course not. It roared.
Finally I gave up and urged them to go watch it. Apparently the entire Prisoner series is available on Youtube.

I decided to re-watch some episodes myself tonight, while reading up on the series. And one of the interesting things about the show is that they used the Beatles recording of All You Need Is Love in the soundtrack of the last episode, "Fall Out." That episode was first aired in England on February 1, 1968. The song had been released less than a year earlier, on July 7, 1967.

And according to this web site:
Eric Mival, Music Editor on the Prisoner, recalled that the decision to use "All You Need Is Love" on the Fall Out soundtrack cost the princely sum of £48 (about $75 US).
That's right, $75 USD.

To get some sense of the bargain this was, consider that the Wall Street Journal claimed that the producers of Mad Men had to pay $250,000 to get the rights to play Tomorrow Never Knows on one episode. And that wasn't even one of their big hits.

Tthe origins of the title of Tomorrow Never Knows (from Wiki):
Interviewer: "Now, Ringo, I hear you were manhandled at the Embassy Ball. Is this right?" 
Ringo: "Not really. Someone just cut a bit of my hair, you see." 
Interviewer: "Let's have a look. You seem to have got plenty left." 
Ringo: (turns head) "Can you see the difference? It's longer, this side." 
Interviewer: "What happened exactly?" 
Ringo: "I don't know. I was just talking, having an interview (exaggerated voice). Just like I am NOW!" 
(John and Paul begin lifting locks of his hair, pretending to cut it) 
Ringo: "I was talking away and I looked 'round, and there was about 400 people just smiling. So, you know — what can you say?" 
John: "What can you say?" 
Ringo: "Tomorrow never knows." 
(John laughs)

There's the orchestra coming into the studio now, and you'll notice that the musicians are not rock and roll youngsters. The Beatles get on best with symphony men."