How the Beatles Went Viral

At the end of 1963, very few people in America had heard of the Beatles. Then six weeks later, they blew up. Greenberg explains how the band finally broke through after multiple false starts trying to gain traction with radio airplay:

Transglobal licensed “She Loves You” to a tiny indie, Swan Records of Philadelphia, which released it stateside on Sept. 16. Swan had even less success with the Beatles than Vee-Jay: The song failed to chart at any station, and was roundly rejected by audiences when it was played at all. DJ Murray the K at WINS New York spun “She Loves You” on Sept. 28 in a five-way “battle of the hits,” where it came in third. He continued to play it every night for a week solid, but got no reaction. Swan convinced “American Bandstand,” which broadcast from the label’s hometown, to play the song in its “Rate a Record” segment, where it received a score of 73 out of 100. Worse, the teens on “Bandstand” laughed when host Dick Clark held up a photo of the moptopped Beatles. After that incident, Clark recalled, “I figured these guys were going nowhere.”

Source: Billboard
Published: Feb 8, 2014
Length: 42 minutes (10,704 words)

Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ at 30

[Not single-page] How the album bridged a racial divide on MTV and radio in the early 1980s:

“Despite the obvious quality of the Jackson videos, MTV initially resisted playing them, claiming it was a rock station and Jackson didn’t fit the format. There is to this day some disagreement as to what led the channel to change its policy and add ‘Billie Jean.’ At the time, a story was widely circulated that CBS chief Walter Yetnikoff resorted to threatening to pull all of his label’s videos off the channel if MTV didn’t play ‘Billie Jean,’ but this claim has been refuted over the years by original MTV honchos Bob Pittman and Les Garland. They concede that the channel initially assumed it would not play the video, as its thumping beat and urban production did not fit the channel’s ‘rock’ image. They contend however that in mid-February, after seeing the clip–which was possibly the best that had ever come across their desks–they began to re-think things. Coupled with the fact that even without MTV, the song had just leaped in one week from No. 23 to No. 6 on the Hot 100, the MTV execs concluded they should give it a shot.”

Source: Billboard
Published: Nov 30, 2012
Length: 16 minutes (4,240 words)