In a move to stay true to the 1960s, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner paid $250,000 in licensing fees to use the Beatles' Tomorrow Never Knows in last Sunday's episode of Mad Men, according to The New York Times.
While licensing Beatles music for television, or anything else for that matter, has become notoriously difficult, Weiner is said to have dished out the 250K because it was thematically consistent with the setting of the show.
It was always my feeling that the show lacked a certain authenticity because we never could have an actual master recording of the Beatles performing, Weiner told the Times.
Not just someone singing their song or a version of their song, but them, doing a song in the show. It always felt to me like a flaw. Because they are the band, probably, of the 20th century, he added.
The price tag for the Beatles song, while being extraordinarily high, is said to be an appropriate price since many major pop songs can be licensed for less than $100,000, The Times says, citing several music and advertising executives.
An episode from the previous season of the show included the Rolling Stones classic Satisfaction, which was likely licensed at a similarly cost, as the Stones typically demand a high premium for use of their music, according to Rolling Stone Magazine.
While Weiner would not comment on the actual cost of the licensing, Money did not seem to be much of a concern when it came to licensing the final track of The Beatles' 1966 studio album, Revolver.
Whatever people think, this is not about money. It never is. They are concerned about their legacy and their artistic impact, Weiner told The Times.
As original Beatles recording are very rarely heard on television or in films, the surviving Beatles and their heirs are known to be very picky licensors, turning down almost every request.
It was only two years ago that Apple and EMI announced the purchase of the Fab Four's catalogue of music for their popular iTunes store. The acquisition came nearly 10 years after iTunes was introduced by Apple Inc.
We love the Beatles and are honored and thrilled to welcome them to iTunes, Steve Jobs said, in a statement from the aquisition. It has been a long and winding road to get here.
Aside from songs that have been played in the occasional commercial or the Beatles cartoon series that was shown on ABC in the 1960s, the use of Tomorrow Never Knows on Mad Men is likely one of the only times that a Beatles track has been used in a TV show, according to The Times.
The use of the song can be heard towards the latter half of Mad Men season five, episode eight, titled Lady Lazarus. Advertising executive Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm) finds himself struggling to understand youth culture and is given a copy of the Beatles album Revolver, a new release in the summer of 1966.
Instead of listening to the album from the top, Draper instead skips to the bottom of the track list, Tomorrow Never Knows, contemplating it for a few confused moments before he shuts it off.
For such a huge sum of money, Draper is not even impressed by the song and turns it off. The lack of interest underscores the recurring theme through the season that the Draper is entirely out of touch with youth culture.