What Can You Learn From Beatlemania If You’re Not the Beatles?

“Beatles Bomb on TV.”

Those were the words the New York Herald Tribune used in dismissing the historic appearance of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show February 9, 1964. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but the Herald Tribune completely scoffed at one of the most famous moments in television history, which is widely regarded as ground zero for the launch of Beatlemania in the United States. Fifty years later, news media ranging from Rolling Stone to Late Night with David Letterman are celebrating that fabled night when 40 percent of the entire United States was glued to their television sets and willingly acquiesced to the music, charisma, and energy of John, Paul, George, and Ringo. But as I noted in a new presentation I’ve uploaded to SlideShare, Five Lessons Musicians Can Learn from Beatlemania, the Beatles had to endure their share of rejection and scorn from the mainstream news media even as the American record-buying public was embracing them. The band’s ability to rise above the critics and win over the influencers is one of the lessons I believe today’s artists can learn from Beatlemania.


To be sure, by early 1964, the Beatles were already the most popular act in their native United Kingdom and were rapidly ascending in the United States, thanks to the power of their single, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” But  mainstream influencers simply did not understand them — neither their music (which was too different and too loud), their appearance (their hair was just too long), nor their adoring fans (who were too emotional and devoted). After all, only one month before the Beatles arrived, the Number One song in the United States was “Dominique” by the Singing Nun. And then along came the Beatles, brimming with sex appeal, to sing “All My Loving” on Ed Sullivan. The Herald Tribune was not the only doubter. “Visually, they are a nightmare . . . musically, they are a near disaster,” scoffed Newsweek.  “America had better take thought as to how it will deal with the invasion . . . Indeed a restrained ‘Beatles go home’ might be just the thing,” reacted the Baltimore Sun to Beatlemania.


The Beatles didn’t simply endure critics: they won them over. From the start, they always understood how to charm and wow the influencers who were so critical to building their fan base. In their home country, they famously Continue reading

It’s Time for a Digital Intervention

Take control of digital technology before the digital world takes control of you.

That’s a key message of a July 16 Newsweek article by Tony Dokoupil, “iCrazy,” as well as an August 6 Forbes article by Kashmir Hill, “Beware, Tech Abandoners,” both of which warn that excessive use of digital is flat-out bad for you. Dokoupil cites recent research to claim that digital usage, when unchecked, can lead to disorders such as addiction, depression, and compulsive behavior. “The current incarnation of the Internet — portable, social, accelerated, and all-pervasive — may be making us not just dumber or lonelier but more depressed and anxious, prone to obsessive-compulsive and attention-deficit disorders, even outright psychotic,” Dokoupil writes, noting that the forthcoming Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will recognize Internet Addiction Disorder for the first time. Adds Hill, “We’re all addicted to technology now . . . we the users are starting to question how technology is changing us: making us fat, making us unhealthy, making us depressed, making us lonely, making us narcissistic . . .”

Those articles are just the latest in a series of recently published insights (such as a Huffington Post piece about social media addiction and a Haydn Shaughnessy column on saying no to social media) that should give digital enthusiasts a reason to rethink how often we use digital and to what purpose. Dokoupil in particular issues a searing indictment of the self-absorbed habits of digital devotees — and he doesn’t even mention the blatant narcissism prevalent among Klout users.

But it’s not just the articles that have me worried — my personal use of digital does, too. I manage 30 social media sites personally and professionally, and a few email accounts. It’s not uncommon for me to be online from early morning until late at night posting content or responding to someone else — usually via short, staccato-like bursts of activity. To be sure, the proliferation of digital platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest generates more opportunities for sharing content (such as my own blog) and has created a professional livelihood. I am better off for having digital in my life. But constantly bouncing across the digital world — whether I’m posting a news article on my Facebook wall, uploading a photo on Instagram, or following news breaking on Twitter — is a fragmented experience that creates stress as I process the information swirling around me in real time.  Responding to other people 24/7 creates its own kind of stress (as well as a self-perpetuating cycle of activity).

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Weinergate not about social media

By now Anthony Weiner has become a poster child for the perils of social media and a case study for the influence of Twitter. But I don’t believe Weinergate is about social media or digital illiteracy. Weinergate is simply another cautionary tale about public figures acting recklessly and badly.

From his mea culpa press conference, we learned that his public Tweet revealing himself in his bulging underwear (aimed at student Gennette Cordova) was just one of a series of online indiscretions (if that’s even the right word) with six women.

Or, as he put it: “I have exchanged photos and messages of an explicit nature with at least six women over the last few years.”

One of those women, Megan Broussard, shared with ABC News emails, Facebook messages, and other evidence of an online relationship that had been occurring since April.

“I didn’t think it was him,” she told ABC. “I thought for sure, ‘why would someone in that position be doing this?'”

Why indeed would someone in his position be doing something like this?

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