Posthumous Pop! How Late Legends Are Making It Rain

Published: Friday 6th Mar 2020 by Sam

Streaming may be music’s new favourite term, but many late greats are reaping rewards that aren’t just rivalling some of today’s top stars – but outpacing them too.

From Michael Jackson to Elvis, the estates of some of music’s most enduring names are bringing a new meaning to living forever.

Full story below…

Whether it’s by way of posthumous collaborations, savvy sync deals, or even holograms, the output of late legends are yielding bountiful results.

For instance, the King of Pop Michael Jackson has seen his estate generate over $2 Billion in the time since his death and his music top charts via pairings with the likes of Drake and Justin Timberlake. 

And while MJ’s run is building on the posthumous foundation set by his one-time father-in-law Presley, major deals (centered around music, performance, and other activations) are being cut by reps for those more recently deceased such as Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston.

The wins are also apparent on the backend too. Case in point the MJ Estate’s colossal publishing deal with BMI. 

In a recent interview, music industry expert Barry Massarsky unpacked why the classics are proving so valuable:

“Standards like Michael Jackson tend to trade at a higher value because they’re proven. There are no kinks in the value chain, you kind of know exactly how it’s going to land because it has a nice, even track record to rely on. There’s no risk involved, so that is built into value.

These songs have material value. The songs in that genre are highly valuable for insertions in film, commercials and television. They speak to a timeframe, a mood, an era that is very commercially exciting for advertisers, film and television.

When Tom Petty passed away, and I remember this happened with the Eagles when Glen Frey passed away, we do see a surge in activity.

There’s a scramble anyway for standard hits. There are about eight or nine buyers that compete all the time for this music. So there’s an appetite for Michael Jackson and the market is already going to be inflated because there’s a surge in demand to buy, and the seller will leverage on that. It’s not the death, it’s the format of the late songwriter. If we talk about standards, these fantastic iconic songs, they just live and breathe throughout the marketplace.

There’s a thought that streaming, even though it’s so focused on contemporary music, even older people will catch up to it and standards will become part of that business environment as well.”

Check out this chart, which further illustrates the current climate of posthumous Pop:


Your thoughts?

*The above figures where taken from the Late Greats Index produced by Betway Casino.

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