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'Mad Men' Pays $250,000 to License Beatles Song

Paul McCartney once sang, "Money can't buy me love."

Maybe not. But enough of it will get you a Beatles song for your television show.

According to a report from The New York Times, Mad Men paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $250,000 to license the Revolver track “Tomorrow Never Knows” for an episode that appeared Sunday night, May 6.

“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 Mad Men 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 20th century.”

Actual Beatles recordings are typically rare in film and television, with cover versions of their classic songs being the far more affordable alternative. The surviving Beatles and the heirs of Lennon and Harrison are also notoriously picky when it comes to licensing the band's music, turning down a majority of applicants.

“Whatever people think, this is not about money," Weiner said. "It never is. They are concerned about their legacy and their artistic impact.”

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Josh Hart is a former web producer and staff writer for Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado magazines (2010–2012). He has since pursued writing fiction under various pseudonyms while exploring the technical underpinnings of journalism, now serving as a senior software engineer for The Seattle Times.