Michael Jackson may have died in 2009, but his once-suffering estate is now thriving on profits from music sales, licensing agreements, and upcoming projects.
Legal documents filed in February and obtained by Reuters claim that while Jackson was over $400 million in debt at the time of his death, his estate has made more than $310 million in the years since. The estate’s administrators have used that money to pay off Jackson’s debt, as well as to care for the estate’s beneficiaries: Jackson’s children, his mother, and a variety of charities.
Last year, Billboard broke down the Jackson estate’s then-$1 billion in revenue. At that time, sales of Jackson’s music – including albums, digital track downloads, ringtone sales, and other royalties – totaled $429 million, with his film/television properties clocking in at $392 million. Licensing, touring, recording contracts, and music publishing added another $196 million.
Now, a year later, these figures would expand to include sales of the Ubisoft-produced video game Michael Jackson: The Experience (which has moved over 3 million copies since its release in April) and ongoing revenue from Jackson’s stake in the Sony/ATV music catalog, which includes consistently popular titles by everyone from Elvis to Lady Gaga. Also worthy of consideration: Music sales. In May, a single off Jackson’s posthumously released album Michael topped the Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs chart.
Songs, albums, and games will keep selling, and it is likely that the estate will continue to see profits from upcoming projects. In March 2010, the estate struck a deal with Sony Music Entertainment to release 10 albums of the singer’s music through 2017, guaranteeing them anywhere between $200 million and $250 million.
It’s interesting how someone’s death can be worth more than their life. It just goes to show that people don’t realize what they’ve got until it’s gone.
It’s nice to know that thus far Michael’s attorney’s and business peeps haven’t licensed his name to every Tom, Dick, and Harry who wants a piece of the action. They have only released his license on deals that will honor Michael and keep his brand sacred.
- Michael Priceless
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