Do The Beatles Need Spotify To Remain Timeless?

Music experts discuss the idea of prolonged relevance in the age of streaming services.

It's safe to say we all agree that The Beatles are among the most influential musical acts of all time, but could that ever change? 

The website Polygraph, which specializes in data-driven storytelling, made a splash recently with its report on the most timeless songs in history. But the piece's methodology, which used the number of times a song has been played on Spotify, created some big omissions; artists like The Beatles and Taylor Swift, whose music is not available on the streaming service, couldn't be included in the rankings.

During a HuffPost Live conversation on Tuesday about Polygraph's findings, host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani discussed The Beatles' place in today's youth culture with a panel of experts. Obviously the iconic band isn't in danger of losing influence in the immediate future, but as Institute for Popular Music director John Covach pointed out, even a catalogue as legendary as The Beatles' goes through ebbs and flows in popularity. 

 "I was in high school in the 1970s, [and] mostly what you heard from The Beatles was the stuff from the later albums, maybe as early as 'Sgt. Pepper,' but it was mostly 'White Album,' 'Abbey Road' kind of stuff," Covach said. "So a lot of this -- 'I Want To Hold Your Hand,' 'She Loves You,' 'Can't Buy Me Love' -- which is what a lot of people tag The Beatles with now, you couldn't hear that music very much."

Covach's experience was that anyone who wanted to hear those older works had to track them down in used record stores, meaning early Beatles music was largely "at the very edges of the radar." That could potentially happen again with a younger generation if Beatles albums don't make their way to streaming services, said Spotify Insights editor Eliot Van Buskirk.

"My kids don't get to listen to as much Beatles growing up as I did growing up because they're not on the format we tend to listen to, and I hope they don't wait too long and you get, like, 20 years of people who have never really heard much of The Beatles. I don't think that's going to help their timelessness 50 years from now," Van Buskirk said. "But I think we'll see them streaming before too long."

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