What iTunes Really Means to The Beatles

This morning I tweeted: “I put Beatles albums in my daughter’s iTunes library years ago. Suddenly, now that Beatles are top iTunes downloads, she’s listening.” That succinctly explains what The Beatles get from the exclusive distribution deal with Apple. There are millions of Millennials who aren’t acquainted with Beatles music, and they might never be with their parents listening to it. But everything changes if their friends are Beatling.

The “Social Generation” takes cues from its peers. There’s a kind of group think among Millennials, which social networking services like Facebook reinforce. Marketers already are learning that Millennials, also called Echo Boomers or Generation Y, have limited brand loyalty. Product affinity directly relates to the peer group—what friends and other people of similar age are using. According the Australian Leadership Foundation:

While the Builders’ Generation [Gen X] are most influenced by authority figures and Boomers make decisions based on data and facts, post-modern youth are more likely to make a decision based on the influence of their own peers. Our research has further confirmed that the biggest factor determining the choice a teenager will make is the experiences of their core group of 3 to 8 friends. Rather than making independent decisions based on core values, they live in a culture encouraging them to embrace community values, and to reach consensus.

Jeanna Mastrodicasa, University of Florida assistant vice president for Student Affairs, identifies seven traits Millennials share in common:

  • They feel “special”
  • They’re “sheltered” by parents
  • The feel “confident”—empowered
  • They are “team-oriented” in actions/decisions
  • They are “conventional” in attitudes about intolerance
  • They feel “pressured” to succeed or to take certain actions
  • They make “achieving” a priority, which is reinforced by peer groups

Apple has cued up The Fab Four to benefit from Millennials’ communal consensus attitudes. The Beatles came to iTunes one week ago, in an exclusive digital download distribution deal that ends sometime in 2011. A day later, Nov. 17, 2010, all 17 Beatles albums carried on iTunes ranked in to Top 50 and Beatles singles accounted for about one-quarter of the songs in the Top 200. But The Beatles iTunes reign with Millennials may be short-lived. Today, only seven albums make the Top 50, with “Abbey Road” the highest at No. 18. Only nine Beatles singles are in the Top 200, with “Here Comes the Sun” the highest at No. 66. Once again, the Millennials mob has topped the charts with contemporary artists, like Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Rihanna and Kanye West.

Millennials aren’t necessarily fickle, just consensus-oriented. Apple introduced The Beatles to a new generation of listeners. How far The Beatles go with Millennials will depend much on how the mob rules.

Here are some randomly-chosen Generation Y primers:

By far, educators provide the best assessments of Millennials’ character and cultural attitudes.