THE BEATLES AS A BUSINESS MODEL
MANILA, NOVEMBER 15, 2006 (STAR) ITíS A WONDERFUL LIFE By Rod Nepomuceno - One of the most used (and abused) words in business is the word "partner" Ė or "partnership." Every time you do business with someone, you will hear it. People say things like, "I donít look at you as a client, I look at you as a partner" Ė or, "Letís enter into a joint venture partnership."
The words "partner" or "partnership" actually have a lot of implications. From a legal standpoint, entering into a partnership is a more intimate act than putting up a corporation. One of the main differences between a partnership and a corporation is that in a corporation, you are only liable to the extent that you, as an investor, actually put capital into the business. In partnerships, you and the partnership are viewed as one. So letís say your partnership gets sued and the suing party wins the case; you as a partner can be held liable, not only to the extent of your investment, but also as far as your own personal properties. So in a partnership, more is at stake. And thatís why I donít take the word "partner" lightly.
The world has seen a lot of partnerships. But for me, one of the most compelling and most intriguing partnerships in history is not really known as a business Ė but rather as a songwriting collaboration between two very gifted individuals. Iím referring to Lennon & McCartney Ė the dynamic songwriting duo that made the Beatles more than just a rock band. Under the leadership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the Beatles became the most successful music act of all time. In the music industry, the words "Lennon & McCartney" mean a whole lot more than just a songwriting team. The "Lennon & McCartney" brand is a seal of greatness. Itís musical royalty (figuratively and literally, since McCartney was knighted a few years back).
More than 42 years after their first No. 1 hit the airwaves, the Beatlesí enterprise gets bigger and bigger. Paul McCartney is reportedly the richest musician in the world (his net worth is pegged at around $1.8 billion, although this will be reduced considerably in light of his ongoing divorce from Heather Mills). John Lennonís estate (he was murdered in 1980 by a deranged fan) continues to rake it in, with his wife Yoko Ono deftly leveraging on the name, image and iconic reputation of her late husband. Paul reportedly earns more than 25 million British pounds a year in music-publishing royalties alone. According to Forbes magazine, Johnís estate earns around $22 million annually. A big chunk of those royalties comes from the songs they wrote as Beatles.
But while John Lennon and Paul McCartneyís partnership is a phenomenal financial success, it was hardly a perfect one. In fact, as most people know, the relationship of John and Paul became very bitter Ė so much so that they sued one another when the Beatles broke up and openly traded barbs in their solo songs. John once remarked that Paulís love songs were silly; Paul countered by composing a song entitled Silly Love Songs, boldly responding to Lennon with "Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs. And whatís wrong with that?" The song shot to No. 1. John also had some scathing words for Paul in his hit song, Instant Karma: "How in the world you gonna see, laughiní at fools like me? Who on earth díyou think you are, a super star?" Even as enemies, they inspired each other to succeed.
But even if their partnership turned acrimonious, one thing is clear Ė there was something magical in the Lennon & McCartney partnership. There are a lot of principles and dynamics of partnership that all of us can learn from Lennon & McCartney.
Choose discriminately when selecting a partner: If thereís one important lesson on partnerships that we can derive from Lennon & McCartney, itís this: Choose well. Like I said, partnerships mean deep commitment. Itís not just something you do together with another person. Itís a deep relationship. So you have to choose the right partner. John first met Paul at a church festival where his band The Quarryman had just performed. Paul was introduced to John by a common friend. Paul started tinkering with one of the bandís guitars. John was immediately struck by Paulís natural talent on the guitar. He immediately knew that this guy was going to be an asset to the band. The next week, he invited Paul to join The Quarryman. John also tapped Paul because he knew that Paul would complement him. John was pessimistic, intense, candid, brash and more into rock. Paul, on the other hand, was optimistic, cheerful, tactful, sunny, relatively well-behaved, and more into ballads and Broadway. In choosing a business partner, we should also pay the same attention to talent. Itís always best to have talented and dedicated people in your team. Itís also best to find a partner whose talent will complement yours so thereís no duplication or overlapping. The Beatles were a great rock Ďní roll band Ė but theyíre equally known for all their timeless classics like Yesterday and Here, There and Everywhere.
Get a partner who shares your vision: During the earlier years of the Beatles, John would prep his group by asking them, "Where are we going, lads?" And the standard answer from Paul, Ringo and George was, "To the top!" "And whereís that?" John would prod. The three would shout in unison, "To the uppermost of the poppermost!" They had a clear vision Ė and they truly believed they could achieve that vision.
Donít rely too much on your partner: While a good number of songs by the Beatles are credited to Lennon and McCartney, it is interesting to note that most of their songs were actually written individually. As new bandmates, they initially started writing songs together. But as they grew older, their own individual styles started to surface. They began to write songs independently. While Paul and John were a songwriting partnership, they didnít depend too much on what the other would contribute. Instead, they went about contributing whatever they could. And they were relentless. They werenít too concerned about whether the other one was contributing. Each of them just kept on contributing songs. In fact, in a subtle way, John and Paul regarded each other as competitors. They competed against each other in terms of musical output. And this "competition" actually brought out the best in them.
And thatís important in business partnerships. Oftentimes, people get into partnerships with the hope of "reducing the load of work." But that shouldnít be the case. When you partner up with someone, you should actually work harder Ė because then, itís not just your success and failure thatís at stake; itís someone elseís failure or success at stake as well.
Always respect your partnerís input: While John and Paul often fought, there was always mutual respect between the two of them. John would often compliment Paulís work if he thought it was good. And Paul would always go to John and ask for his advice on certain songs he was composing. This respect is very important in any partnership. Once you take the other party for granted Ė and you stop believing in your partnerís abilities Ė the partnership is doomed.
To end, let me quote a Lennon-McCartney song entitled The End. The last words in that song are: "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." When entering into partnerships, make sure you put your "love of work" into it. Because, in the end, the fruits of your partnership will depend on what youíve put into it.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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