Disney-Driven Music

Despite management shuffles at the top, music has kept Disney+ close to the yellow brick road

There are certainly contretemps at the Walt Disney Company. Bob Iger headed the company as CEO starting in 2005 (taking over from Michael Eisner). He handed the proverbial reigns of Cinderella’s coach to Bob Chapek in February 2020, but stayed on as executive chairman until 2021. Iger is now back as CEO, undoubtedly because, as The Motley Fool puts it, “Disney’s shares have greatly underperformed the broader stock market in the Chapek era.” Not much of an era, fewer than three years.

But it is always about the money.

Near the end of the Iger age, November 2019, Disney+ launched in the U.S. Arguably, music has done a lot for the fortunes of that streaming service. It put the filmed version of Hamilton on its service in July 2020. It turns out that many COVID locked-down people in the U.S. were more than willing to pay to see, from the comfort of their own couches, some hip-hop history: Miranda’s movie musical led to 458,796 downloads in the U.S. and 752,451 times globally during Hamilton’s launch weekend. As a monthly subscription to the service went for $6.99 back then, the U.S. downloads alone brought in $3.2 million that weekend.

Then on November 25, 2021, The Beatles: Get Back premiered on Disney+, a three-part documentary from the three-time Academy Award winner Peter Jackson. The first section runs 157 minutes. The following two episodes, which initially showed on November 26 and 27 respectively, ran 173 minutes and 138 minutes.

Disney, of course, owns Marvel. Marvel films are notoriously lengthy, such that shortly after one of them launches there are on-line guides to when one can safely make a quick beeline to the lavatory. However, while the longest Marvel film (so far) is Avengers: Endgame clocks in at 181 minutes; the Beatles saga (or era) is 468 minutes in total. Odds are that Baby Boomers hadn’t stared at a screen for so long since Cinemax pulled the plug on soft-core.Those who might have otherwise done an eyeroll whenever someone uttered the word Disney certainly gave something of a respectful nod to the company for streaming the story of the subcutaneous fracturing of a band whose legend may be even bigger than its prodigious success.

And then there is the event of November 20, 2022, the Disney+ presentation of “Elton John Live: Farewell from Dodger Stadium,” a concert that it livestreamed. Elton John is in the in the midst of “Farewell Yellow Brick Road,” his retirement from touring tour. It commenced in September 2018 and was to run for three years. But then COVID got in the way, so he had to postpone it (he also had hip surgery, which is not good for a performer as animated as Elton). The global tour is expected to end in July 2023.

But the performance at Dodger Stadium was to be his last in North America. As his official website read on October 25, 2022:

“On this day, exactly 47 years ago, Elton John’s legendary performance at Dodger Stadium launched him into global stardom, and next month, he will come full circle, returning to Dodger Stadium for his final North American show. Exclusively streamed live on Disney+ on Sunday, November 20, 2022, “Elton John Live: Farewell from Dodger Stadium” is a once-in-a-lifetime live, global original concert event that offers fans from around the world a front-row seat to witness the groundbreaking magic of the Rocket Man back at Dodger Stadium.”

After performing 23 songs, he performed “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and left the stage.

Again, a Disney+ presentation that Netflix couldn’t top.

But turns out that Elton topped it in a way.

On November 23 Elton John had another public performance in North America, this one on Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50thstreets in New York, outside Saks Fifth Avenue.

Prior to the reveal of the holiday-decorated windows of Saks, sitting at a grand piano, he performed “Your Song.” Then left the stage.

Saks is donating $1 million to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

A generous gesture that topped an otherwise final performance.

It is always about the money.

 You May Also Like

Stephen Macaulay

Stephen Macaulay writes about the music industry for Glorious Noise (www.gloriousnoise.com).He began his career in Rockford, Illinois, a place about which Warren Zevon once told a crowd, “How can you miss with a name like Rockford?”

One thought on “Disney-Driven Music

  • November 28, 2022 at 12:56 pm

    What a small world. I worked for magazine in Rockford for 2.5 years.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *