Hearing The Beatles during last night's Mad Men episode was surprising. It's strange, because The Beatles are the most popular band of all time and hearing a Beatles song should never be surprising, but believe it or not, last night was the first time an original master Beatles recording was licensed for use on a television show. As you can imagine, it was not cheap.
The Wall Street Journal talked to people who were familiar with the deal, and according to them, the cost to license "Tomorrow Never Knows" for the Mad Men episode on AMC cost about $250,000. Lionsgate, the studio in charge of the show's production, didn't confirm that number, but a spokesperson did say that it was the most expensive music deal the studio has ever made.
Compared to some other deals involving the use of Beatles' music, the quarter-million dollar price tag isn't too high. Deals involving covers of the band's music for commercials and TV shows like American Idol have exceeded $1 million, but the surviving Beatles members as well as Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison signed off on this deal mostly because of how the music was used, and how the music was built into the plot.