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TheStreet Open House

The Business of The Beatles Keeps Booming 50 Years After Taking America by Storm

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- There's no doubt that 50 years after The Beatles first took America by storm, the world's love affair with John, Ringo, Paul and George is still going strong.  The business of The Beatles just keeps on booming.

When Capitol Records agreed to invest $50,000 in promotion for The Beatles in America in January 1964, they were relatively unknown.

Nielsen estimates that 45% of the country -- a record 73 million people -- tuned in to watch The Beatles' U.S. debut on the Ed Sullivan show on February 9, 1964. They earned a total of $10,000 from three performances on the show that year.

Buzz about the Beatles was only beginning in the U.S. when their first movie, "A Hard Day's Night," grossed $1.3 million in its first week in August 1964. In 1967, The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album cost an estimated $75,000 to produce on a new kind of tape recorder. The album went on to become one of the world's best-selling albums. It spent 15 weeks at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 and boasts an estimated 32 million copies sold.

That album became just one of The Beatles' best-selling efforts. In fact, The Beatles have had 15 number one albums... prompting Michael Jackson to outbid The Beatles for their own song catalog in 1985 for $47.5 million.

Sony-ATV eventually bought the song catalog from Michael Jackson for $95 million in 2005.

And it was The Beatles' compilation album, "1," collection of their chart-topping singles through the decades that sold 11.5 million copies in the U.S. during the first decade of the 2000s. It has now sold approximately 31 million copies worldwide, becoming the best-selling album in America and worldwide during that decade.

Last year, according to Forbes, The Beatles earned a combined $71 million. Paul McCartney earned the most, pulling in $47 million from solo projects and music publishing. Ringo Starr made about $6 million from touring with his All-Starr Band, the late George Harrison also made about $6 million and the late John Lennon made about $12 million.

All in all, Ringo Starr is listed as the richest drummer in the world, with his net worth around $300 million and Paul McCartney is said to have a net worth of $800 million.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, The Beatles have sold more than 106 million albums in the U.S. alone to date -- more than any other artist this century.

In New York, I'm Brittany Umar for TheStreet.

Written by Brittany Umar in New York.

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