The history of music can be divided into two parts: before the Beatles and after. Such was the potency of their influence, not only as songwriters and music makers, but as a business entity and industry role model.

Arguably the clearest example of how the Beatles changed the world within a matter of months is the period leading up to the release of their fourth U.S. album, 1964's A Hard Day's Night.

In February of that year, the Beatles made their first pilgrimage to America, performing on The Ed Sullivan Show which was televised to some 73 million viewers. (Among the list of musicians who would later cite this moment as the one in which they knew they wanted to be performing artists themselves: Billy JoelTom PettyGene SimmonsJoe PerryNancy Wilson and Bruce Springsteen.) Thanks in no small part to that television show, American audiences became nearly insatiable for all things Beatles.

READ MORE: Underrated Beatles: The Most Overlooked Song From Each Album

There was also the fact that the New York City radio station WMCA was granted the exclusive rights to play the A Hard Day’s Night film soundtrack album in full 10 days before it was scheduled to be released, which only fueled the fire and emphasized the unprecedented times. "There is little question that stations in a hotly competitive market who fail to get on important new records run serious risk of losing listeners to the competition," Billboard reported in July of 1964.

"This culminated in advance orders of over two million for the soundtrack album, making A Hard Day’s Night potentially the biggest-selling album to date in the U.S.A.," author Stephen Glynn wrote in his book A Hard Day's Night: Turner Classic Movies British Film Guide. "Before the final print of the film had been released by the laboratory, the tie-in soundtrack album, itself still at the presses, had not only guaranteed itself No. 1 position in the charts, but had ensured that the budget of £200,000 had already been exceeded twice over in profits."

An Unexpected Change of Plans

Though no one was quite sure what to make of the phenomenon known as Beatlemania, it seemed to make sense to United Artists Records, who had the rights to the A Hard Day's Night soundtrack, to take advantage of this popularity and stage a rush-release of the album in America. Thus, the American edition of the album came out on June 26, 1964. It included all seven songs from the film soundtrack, plus "I'll Cry Instead" and four instrumental, orchestral versions arranged by George Martin: "I Should Have Known Better," "And I Love Her," "Ringo's Theme (This Boy)," and "A Hard Day's Night."

This was followed, finally, by a U.K. edition, whose track listing is the one most people are familiar with, released on July 10, four days after the film premiered in London. The LP spent 21 consecutive weeks at the No. 1 spot there, and things worked out well in the States, too — by the time the movie came out in the U.S. on Aug. 11, A Hard Day's Night was the No. 1 album in the country.

Listen to the Title Track to 'A Hard Day's Night'

Even with the enormous triumph of both the album and the film, the Beatles themselves were still trying to keep up with their fame, which had been thrust upon them so swiftly they hardly knew what to do next.

"With all of the success that you people have had, what do you plan to do with all of the money that you've now made?" they were asked at a press conference on August 18, 1964.

"Uh, dunno really," Paul McCartney answered. "We don't make plans."

Beatles Albums Ranked

From the cheery 'Please Please Me' to the kinda dreary 'Let It Be,' we rank all of the group's studio LPs.

Gallery Credit: Michael Gallucci

More From WZOZ