Business of the Beatles by the Numbers

Since they first arrived in the U.S. in 1964, the Fab Four has sold billions of records, lent their voices for a video game, gotten about as many Facebook page likes as the President of the United States, and in the 2000’s, a compilation album of their biggest hits “1” became the best-selling album of the decade. Here is a look at the business of The Beatles by the numbers.

1. The Ed Sullivan Show


73 million: The number of viewers who tuned into watch The Beatles’ live U.S. debut on The Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 9, 1964. Of the 20 songs The Beatles played during these performances, seven of them became Number One hits.

$10,000: The amount the band received for their headlining performances on the show.

$50,000: The dollar amount Capitol Records was to invest in promoting the then-unknown Beatles in America prior to the Ed Sullivan shows, according to Rolling Stone magazine.

2. I Want to Hold Your Hand

250,000: Unable to stop DJs from playing a leaked version of “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” Capitol Records bumped up the release date to Dec. 26, 1963, and three days later the record had already sold 250,000 copies. By Jan. 10, 1964, it had sold over one million units.

April 1964: The month in which the Fab Four’s “Can’t Buy Me Love” became the first record to top both U.S. and U.K. charts at the same time, as well as have five singles hold the top five positions on the Billboard singles chart.

$1.3 million: How much their first movie “A Hard Day’s Night” grossed in the U.S. during opening week in August 1964, according to Rolling Stone magazine.

15 weeks: The band’s longest chart-topping album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” spent 15 weeks atop the charts in 1967, and has sold over eight million copies to date. Rolling Stone reports the album cost an estimated $75,000 to produce on a then-new four-track tape recorder.

3. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


9 million: The number of copies their best-selling album “Abbey Road” sold.

23: The number of gold singles the band holds, which is the most of any group.

20: The band holds the title for most Number One hits in Billboard Hot 100 history, followed by Mariah Carey with 18.

1988: The year in which The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

4. Beatlemania Product Placement


$100 million: Cirque du Soleil’s show “Love” is a joint venture between Cirque du Soleil and The Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd. The show features the band’s music and plays at The Mirage in Las Vegas in a specially built space that cost a reported $100 million to construct.

$250,000: How much Lionsgate reportedly paid to license The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” from Sony/ATV (who holds the band’s song catalog) to feature in an episode of “Mad Men.”

$95 million: The reported amount Sony/ATV paid Michael Jackson to buy The Beatles song catalog from him in 2005. Jackson purchased the catalog for a $47.5 million in 1985 when he outbid The Beatles.

5. Will You Still Feed Me?


1: The name of The Beatles compilation album of their Number One hits released in 2000, which became the best-selling album of the decade.

$71 million: According to Forbes, The Beatles earned a combined $71 million in 2013 in the form of individual earnings, cash from ongoing album sales and other revenue streams. The report estimates that Paul McCartney earned $47 million from solo projects and music publishing – both his own songs and copyrights he owns of other artists, like Buddy Holly. Ringo Starr grossed about $6 million from touring with his band Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band. The late-George Harrison also earned $6 million, while John Lennon, who was a prolific writer, made about $12 million.

45: The number of Beatles songs featured in The Beatles Rock Band video game, which was released in September 2009, selling more than one million copies by the end of that year.

177 million: The Beatles top RIAA’s “Top Selling Artists (By Album Sales)” list with 177 million total album sales in the U.S., making them RIAA’s top certified band in Gold & Platinum Program history.

6. 2014

65 million: According to data from Nielsen SoundScan, The Beatles have sold 65,224,000 albums (and 14.6 million digital tracks) in the U.S. since 1991 (and are the second biggest selling artist in SoundScan's history, behind Garth Brooks).

30,000: The Beatles saw about 30,000 Wikipedia page views a day, or roughly 2.7 million total, in the past three months, according to music analytics company Next Big Sound.

25 million: There were close to 25 million plays in the U.S. of YouTube videos containing their music in the past three months, Next Big Sound reports.

38 million: The Fab Four have more than 38 million Facebook page likes, comparable to Barack Obama, Next Big Sound’s research shows.

2 million: Next Big Sound also finds that the band’s official Twitter has more than 2 million followers, which is on par with super model and business mogul Heidi Klum and actress Anna Kendrick.