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How Much Did AMC Pay for That Beatles Song on ‘Mad Men’ — and Why?

May 8, 2012  •  Post A Comment

On last Sunday’s episode of AMC’s "Mad Men," when Don Draper played a song from the ‘new’ Beatles album, "Revolver," it cost the show a cool quarter of a million dollars for the rights, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Revolver.jpgAbout 90 seconds of the song "Tomorrow Never Knows" was played as Draper listened for a while, and a montage showed other characters going on with their respective lives.

According to creator Matthew Weiner, he always wanted to get the Beatles’ music — not a sound-alike — into the show. "This music is so important to the 20th century and beyond. How could I pretend that my characters are not actually listening to it?” he said.

In order to get the song on the show, the surviving Beatles, along with Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, had to approve the usage. The $250,000 fee, which would be split between Sony ATV and the owner of the Beatles’ recorded work, EMI, was determined based on how it was used in the plot of the show.

For Weiner, that song was chosen for a specific reason: It was atypical of the Beatles’ music at the time of its release. “Revolver” came out in August 1966.

Indeed, Draper seemed to expect a song more like something from "A Hard Day’s Night," which was referenced earlier in the episode. Instead, he heard the psychedelic sound of "Tomorrow Never Knows,” which is considered an indicator of the direction the Beatles would take with their next several albums as they departed from their familiar pop sound.

“This song and that album is so revolutionary and just paved the way for the idea that you’re in a very popular medium with a huge audience," said Weiner. "When you take a risk like that it’s really about the music and not about the audience. You lead them almost kicking and screaming into something new. I just admire that. And I think Don didn’t.”

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