The Michael Jackson brand has proven to be a billion dollar machine in the near-decade since his death.
A series of savvy moves by his Estate have seen the King Of Pop moonwalk into the new generation and amass huge sums in the process.
Indeed, there have Circus Soleil shows, TV projects, exhibitions, and posthumous albums.
The latter, however, has been a little touch and go. 2014’s ‘Xscape’ was well-received, yet 2010’s ‘Michael’ remains a bone of contention with many fans. So much so that a sect filed a class action suit alleging that vocals had been doctored and, in instances, totally fabricated. A claim that has been denied by the Estate.
Yet, as the success of ‘Don’t Matter To Me’ – Drake‘s “collaboration” with MJ on his ‘Scorpion’ album – proved, there remains a healthy appetite for unheard material from the late, great megastar.
And it appears the hunger for new music will be fed – just in a different manner.
Reflecting on the success of the Drizzy team up, Sony Music CEO Rob Stringer revealed in a recent interview that the strategy for rolling out unreleased MJ will pivot towards more one-off songs rather than. And the reason is…streaming. He explained:
“We’re constantly scouring the catalogue for ideas, but there are no plans at the moment to put any more full-fledged albums out.
We are looking at one-off songs. In this streaming world, that works because it’s a track-based world. There are a few gems out there that we may unearth individually over the next months and years, but we’re also very, very careful to make sure the fanbase doesn’t feel like they’ve been asked yet again to buy material they have. We are very careful about repacking and extremely cognisant of the fanbase that has everything.”
An interesting point given the release of last year’s ‘Scream’ compilation (which didn’t contain new music, but sewed together previously released material from the catalogue of MJ and the Jackson 5). Yet, in fairness, Stringer has only just taken the helm of things having recently been promoted to the Sony mountain top after a legendary run at Columbia.
Beyond the spot-song approach, Stringer went on to expound on the broader strategy for Jackson’s material moving forward:
“What’s interesting with Michael is that not all artists have managed to bridge the gaps from the physical world to the iTunes world to the streaming world, but with Michael that’s not the case.
His streaming numbers are incredible. The technology at the moment enables us to do something different and highlight different songs and create concepts that will lead people to a greater understanding of the wider catalogue of Michael’s work.” [Source]
Granted we’ve longed to hear some of the latter material Michael was working on in a packaged album format, everything Stringer said rings true.
It’s a different marketplace and there’s only so many compilations of the classics that can be spun together.
By going the route they did with the Drake collab and embracing carefully considered pairings, it makes the arrival of new MJ an “event” in and of itself. What’s more, it extends the life-cycle of said material and keeps the anticipation going.