Mad Men paid $250,000 to use a Beatles song

Pin it

Don listens to the Beatles

This Sunday's Mad Men prominently featured "Tomorrow Never Knows" from The Beatles' 1966 album Revolver, and to great effect — times seemed a-changing, Don seemed old and out of touch, etc. It's a good thing it worked, since producers apparently paid an astronomical fee for the privilege, estimated to clock in around $250,000.

"It was always my feeling that the show lacked a certain authenticity because we never could have an actual master recording of the Beatles performing," said the show's creator Matthew Weiner. "Not just someone singing their song or a version of their song, but them, doing a song in the show. It always felt to me like a flaw. Because they are the band, probably, of the twentieth century."

Aside from the money, Weiner also had to jump through considerable hoops:

"I had to do a couple things that I don't like doing, which is share my story line and share my pages. It was hard because I had to, writing-wise, commit to the story that I thought was worthy of this incredible opportunity. The thing about that song in particular was, the Beatles are, throughout their intense existence, constantly pushing the envelope, and I really wanted to show how far ahead of the culture they were. That song to me is revolutionary, as is that album."

According to Weiner, it's the only time their music has been used in the context of a scripted TV show. Full details on the deal are confidential but anonymous sources set the price at close to $250,000, which is apparently not particularly out of line for rights to a major pop song, and Weiner claims he would have changed the episode's story line had he not been able to lock down the song. Has there ever been a more committed (or deep-pocketed) Beatles fan?