As the first anniversary of his June 25 death approaches, a primer on Michael Jackson, postmortem:
Q. What happened to Jackson’s record sales after he died?
A. They’ve gone through the roof. In 2008, according to Nielsen SoundScan, Jackson’s records sold 1.3 million copies. In 2009, he became the year’s bestselling artist, his 8.3 million sold, almost doubling the closest competitor, Taylor Swift, with 4.6 million. There were similar spikes in digital downloads, Web streams and airplay. Things are slowing in 2010, however, with just 1 million records sold yearto-date.
Q. Is more music coming?
A. Yes. Sony Music in March made a deal with Jackson’s estate potentially worth $250 million for the rights to reissues and his many unreleased recordings. An album is expected in November, and former Sony Music Chief Executive Tommy Mottola said after Jackson’s death that there’s so much unreleased material it “could go on for years and years — even more than Elvis.”
Q. So is Jackson becoming Elvis?
A. Kinda sorta, but not completely. His longtime home, Neverland Ranch, near Santa Barbara, Calif., is probably too far from a major population center to become a tourist attraction like Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, Tenn. Neverland’s ownership structure is complicated too. But the fact that he’s making so much more money now than he did in the final years of his life suggests a Presley-esque afterlife is possible.
Q. What about spinoffs? Why limit Jackson to making music?
A. There’s a song-and-dancethemed video game from Ubisoft due out before Christmas.
And, as it has done with Presley and the Beatles, Cirque du Soleil is planning a Jackson-themed stage show for 2011.
Q. What’s going on with the Jackson museum in his hometown, Gary, Ind.?
A. The Jackson Family Foundation this month acquired 300 acres from Gary for the project.
Plans are for a Jackson family museum, performance venue, hotel, shops, residential units and golf course.
Q. Wasn’t the fall 2009 movie “This Is It,” based on rehearsals for Jackson’s planned comeback concerts, kind of a dud?
A. Nope. It generated mostly positive reviews. And it was the highest-grossing concert movie, taking in $261 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.
Q. Jackson was heavily in debt when he died. Has his recent popularity boost softened that?
A. With the post-mortem cash influx, the estate has been paying off many of Jackson’s debts, according to recent news reports, including six-figure fees to the lawyer who defended him on childmolestation charges and to a consumer electronics store. But there’s still a $300 million loan outstanding, the Wall Street Journal reported June 21.
Q. What’s the status of the investigation into his death?
A. Jackson’s physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in California after administering a potent anesthetic that has been blamed for the singer’s death. In June, a Los Angeles judge refused to revoke Murray’s medical license and will schedule a hearing that could determine whether he stands trial.
// Notes from the Road
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