Gearing up for a Michael Jackson bonanza

jacksonskyiphone At various times during the weekend when I was out and about, I was checking the latest news on my iPhone, usually with the excellent Sky News app.

It did amaze me at one point on Saturday to note that every major news story I saw was something about Michael Jackson.

That’s almost all there’s been on TV news since the entertainer died unexpectedly last Thursday.

But if you thought the news every which-way angle about what happened last week was overwhelming, and wondered when (or even if) your favourite radio station would again play music other than Michael Jackson tracks, get ready for what’s coming from the entertainment industry as the marketing machine gears up to maximize revenue opportunities from a huge re-issue of Jackson’s music catalogue.

First, take a look at what’s starting on eBay as increasing amounts of Michael Jackson content appears for sale. (Hmm, I have an original 1982 copy of the Thriller CD. I love the music but I wonder…)

thriller-cover thriller-cd

Some of the signals in the mainstream media:

Sales of Jackson music, videos climbs online – Yahoo News US/ Associated Press

Michael Jackson’s death has led to skyrocketing sales of his music and videos, with major retailers like Inc. and Barnes and Noble Inc. selling out of products that have regained immense popularity overnight.

Bill Carr, Amazon’s vice president of music and video, said Friday that once the world learned that the pop icon had died Thursday, the Web site sold out within minutes all CDs by Michael Jackson and by the Jackson 5 — the group Jackson and his four older brothers formed out of Gary, Ind., in the late ’60s.

Sixty percent of Amazon’s CD orders Thursday were for Michael Jackson music, something Carr called "stunning." He said he’d "never seen anything like this" before at Amazon after the death of a pop culture icon.

As of Friday afternoon, Jackson’s albums accounted for all 10 of Amazon’s "Bestsellers in Music" list, with the 25th anniversary edition of the celebrated "Thriller" album taking the top spot.

Michael Jackson Catalog Sales Soar on iTunes, Amazon – Rolling Stone

As the entire world mourns the death of Michael Jackson, many are celebrating the King of Pop’s unparalleled musical legacy. Following the news of Jackson’s sudden passing, Jackson songs and albums immediately begin climbing the sales charts at digital music stores. Over on iTunes, the current top five albums, and seven of the Top 10, are all Jackson releases, with The Essential Michael Jackson, Thriller and Off the Wall all leading the charge. The same goes for the Amazon MP3 store, where Jackson is listed as the service’s top-selling artist of the day. also documented the incredible jump in people on their service listening to Michael Jackson in the moments following Jackson’s death, with a peak of roughly 42,000 MJ songs being played on the service between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET yesterday [June 25].

Michael Jackson tops UK album charts as sales surge – The Guardian

[…] Jackson’s Number Ones album, that features many of his biggest hits, reached the top spot and four other albums made it into the top 20.

In total 11 Michael Jackson or Jackson Five albums made it into this week’s top 200 and 43 out of the top 200 singles featured the singer.

Music retailers said demand for his music had been overwhelming since his death on Thursday. HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said the music store had seen sales rise 80 times over in the 24 hours after Jackson’s death – the biggest one day increase for any artist in the store’s history.

"There’s been huge demand for Michael’s recordings over the past few days – so it’s really no surprise that Number Ones has gone to the top of the official UK album charts, which pretty much has all his greatest hits on, and is the CD most people have been going for," Castaldo said.

Jackson ‘album sales massively increase’ – Digital Spy UK

[…] Eight of Jackson’s albums now dominate the iTunes Top 10, with his recent ‘Number Ones’ collection claiming the top spot.

The iTunes Top 100 singles currently include thirty-one of his solo songs and three by the Jackson 5. 1988 single ‘Man In The Middle’ is leading the pack at number ten.

According to Jackson’s record label Sony Music, the star has sold an estimated 750 million records worldwide.

Demand soars for Jackson music after singer’s death – Yahoo News UK / Reuters

[…] His death has sparked renewed interest in his albums and videos. Everyone from the labels that produced his albums to media outlets, retailers and street vendors selling Jackson T-shirts is set to cash in to the tune of millions of dollars.

"Michael pulled an Elvis. It’s probably the best thing that happened to them this year," Wayne Rosso, a music industry consultant and publicity executive, said of various Sony record labels that own Jackson’s music.

Jacko’s Dad: Michael Will Be Bigger In Death – Sky News

[In a statement from the family, father Joe Jackson] told fans: "Michael would not want us to give up now. Please do not despair, because Michael will continue to live on in each and every one of you.

"Continue to spread his message, because that is what he would want you to do. Carry on, so his legacy will live forever."

The family is believed to be planning a series of simultaneous global celebrations to honour the star.

Wealth of Michael Jackson could be boosted by death – The Times

He conquered the pop world and created sales records that could remain unchallenged, but Michael Jackson may have another number one position waiting for him: the highest-earning dead celebrity.

The annual Forbes magazine list of big earners that are deceased tells the story of death’s ability to boost a brand. Bob Marley, Kurt Cobain, Johnny Cash and Tupac Shakur are all on it, each making millions every year and in some cases more than living singers such as Madonna.

For the past two years, Elvis Presley has held the top position with annual earnings of about $50 million (£30.3 million). If the Neverland Ranch is opened to the public and the current frenzy for his music continues, Jackson could find his earnings hitting twice those of Presley. The figure could be even higher if, along with the untangling of his finances and some clever management, a rumoured album of unreleased songs emerges quick enough for sales to be driven by what some music industry figures are referring to as “grief momentum”.

These are just signals: the marketing machine hasn’t moved out of first gear yet.

A morbid thought perhaps, but this looks like only the start of a process that could see more sales of Michael Jackson’s music and memorabilia than when he was alive.

Not only by and for the family and the music industry, and not just about obvious products, either – just take a look at this imaginative fan site, Billie Tweets, that plays Billie Jean and pulls in tweets that sync key words in each tweet to the music.

The site is liberally sprinkled with affiliate links to places on where you can buy Michael Jackson’s music.

An opportunity for everyone, then.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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