Paul McCartney's Biggest Regret [WAAMN Chapter 1.1]
“It all goes back to the very beginning of the Beatles, when we signed the music publishing contract,” he told me.
This is the weekly installment of my new book, We Are All Musicians Now. To make sure you don’t miss future serializations, subscribe here. Below you’ll find Chapter 1: The Ownership of Genius (Part 1). Enjoy!
Of all the projects I worked on in my decade-plus at Forbes, one of my favorites was the 2017 Centennial issue. This anniversary package had an outrageously ambitious goal: to interview the 100 greatest living business minds and extract a worthy lesson from each, using an “as-told-to” format. We had only a couple months to pull it off—the magazine equivalent of Nic Cage’s Gone In 60 Seconds heist of 50 cars in a couple days—so we went about divvying up the targets by industry.
I had to chase down a handful of music luminaries, and eventually landed figures including Bono, Berry Gordy and Puff Daddy, many of whom I’d interviewed before. But my unicorn—my version of Eleanor, the 1969 Shelby Cobra from the aforementioned flick—was Paul McCartney, one of the first names I learned as a child (my parents weren’t particularly big Beatles fans, but everyone used to tell me I looked like “Palma Cartney.”)
I went on to chronicle his late-career earnings at Forbes and tried to interview him while writing my second book, Michael Jackson, Inc., but never succeeded until the Centennial issue. The topic he wanted to discuss was ownership.
“It all goes back to the very beginning of the Beatles, when we signed the music publishing contract,” he explained, calling in on his way to or from the recording studio. “No matter how successful we made the company, we didn’t get a raise.”
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