The Beatles’ Banishment: Why Are the ‘Fab Four’ Yanked From YouTube?


Brian Sandler, Staff Writer

As I was frantically completing the obligatory class assignments of the week, I was growing antsy. Not only because several of my deadlines were only hours away and counting, but also because I was mind-numbingly bored.

Yes, it is expected that one will not be entertained while completing assignments for college courses, but this boredom was unbearable. As the old adage goes, only music can soothe the savage beast, so I flipped open my web browser, typed in YouTube and off to the tunes I went. Typing in the words, “beatles abbey road,” I was excited to jam along with my favorite Liverpool rockers.

“Who the hell is this,” I asked myself incredulously three seconds later. While the title of the video I had barely started watching read, “Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour,” the voices I heard bore no resemblance to the warm canting of Paul McCartney or the impassioned wails of John Lennon. Instead, these charlatans barely sounded better than a fifth grade choir teacher that was all too eager to recreate the sounds of his favorite group. At that moment, seething with indignant realization, it came to me: “Royalties,” I growled.

Indeed, The Beatles have not had a friendly relationship with the video uploading empire in recent years. Their songs are often taken down after being uploaded for no more than a few days at a time. Many believe that Apple Records, the Beatles’ parent company, is involved, largely due to the stingy nature of royalties. According to some, however, the disappearance of the quartet might have more to do with waning relevance.

Digital Music News has looked at data provided by Google Trends and concluded that they’ve had 70 percent fewer searches between January 2004 and the present,” said Dave Lifton of Ultimate Classic Rock.

“The graph includes all searches related to the band. According to the chart, interest has been declining steadily, although there was a major spike — its highest placing in 13 years — in September 2009. That corresponds with when the Beatles reissued their entire catalog and released a special version of the Rock Band video game on Sept. 9, 2009.”

Streaming, according to Lifton, is also a likely culprit.

“The downward trend on YouTube could also be a reflection of the greater impact that streaming services are having on our listening habits,” he said.

“In late-2015, the group’s music became available on all major streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Prime, Deezer and Google Play.”

Additionally, the passing of two of the group’s members, Lennon and George Harrison, might also be contributing to this decline. According to Paul Resnikoff of Digital Music News, this would be an accurate guess.

“By comparison, the Rolling Stones are far more popular on Google (and YouTube),” he said. “But as tempting as it is to stoke a Stones vs. Beatles debate, it’s no longer a fair comparison.  After all, nothing beats having the entire band alive — especially when it comes to touring, recording, and staying in the news.”

Clearly, the Beatles have been leaving YouTube for reasons other than simple royalty disputes. But while they remain prominent on music streaming apps, one must wonder if the issue will be resolved by impassioned fans coming together, or if they should just let it be. Either way, the most ardent fans will find a way to listen to their favorite band, eight days a week.