Proving Naysayers Wrong: A Content Lesson From the Beatles

beatlesEveryone knows the Beatles. The band started out with a significantly strong local following, and went on to become a global sensation in just a few short years. Their music remains some of the most played all over the world. But here’s a little note on their content: the Beatles didn’t make the best first impression that they could have.

The Failed Audition

Decca Studios, a major player in the industry, agreed to let the band audition. But the Beatles’ failed at their Decca audition in 1962, and they failed hard. Decca rejected the group. Decca’s representative Dick Rowe said, famously, to manager Brian Epstein that “Guitar groups are on their way out.” So with such an intensely flubbed audition, how did the Beatles come back and triumph in the music market?

Well, they did one major thing right: they did not give up. When faced with rejection, instead of disbanding entirely and returning to their day jobs, the famous four did something very right: they stuck together, and they stuck to their content.

Setbacks Are Inevitable

The Beatles knew that, faced with that first rejection, the Decca audition was not their only shot at success. One thing the Beatles figured out after the failed audition was that they simply weren’t ready when they went for it. Paul McCartney himself said about the audition that “we weren’t that good” – but he also knew that the band had potential; they just needed more practice, as well as more interesting content. In fact, most of the songs they played for the Decca audition were covers, but McCartney also said about their original songs that “there were some quite interesting and original things.”

Additionally, John Lennon noted that they simply hadn’t met Decca’s expectations. “Decca expected us to be all polished. We were just doing a demo.” If you, like the early Beatles, are not meeting your target audience’s expectations, they are probably unimpressed.

Find the Right Audience

You need to know that your brand has a place in the market – it just needs the right content to get it off the ground. Of course, you may just be looking in the wrong place. If your content is good but people aren’t picking up on it, then it might be time to find an audience that will. Just one month after the failed Decca audition, George Martin signed the Beatles to EMI’s Parlophone label – and so Beatlemania was underway for the following decade.

What setbacks has your strategy experienced? How has your brand worked through them?


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Tree is a somewhat nomadic graduate student pursuing an MFA in Poetry and Literary Translation from Drew University. A self-identified “diplobrat,” she spent over 16 years living as an expat in countries like Guatemala, Bolivia, and Tanzania. Tree graduated from Smith College in 2012 with a degree in Spanish Language and Literature, a minor in Studio Art, and a concentration in Landscape Studies. In between writing poetry for school and content for CEM, she dabbles in goat herding and freelancing. Other interests include reading, watercolor painting, gardening, and traveling.

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