$250 million is by far the record for a recording artist, living or dead–the closest thing, Jay-Z’s $150 million dollar deal with Live Nation, isn’t really anywhere close. The fact that Jackson isn’t alive to fulfill the contract is incidental–the Wall Street Journal reports that Sony is due 10 albums over seven years, consisting of “a mix of previously unreleased songs and new packages of familiar ones.” No problem: Jackson has legendary unreleased archives, mostly recorded during the ’90s and ’00s with everybody from will.i.am to Akon, and last year’s This Is It soundtrack–the first album to be released in this retroactive deal–is presumably only the first of many greatest hits and deluxe reissue packages to come.
And before you shake your head at Sony’s profligate spending, note that Jackson’s sold about 31 million records worldwide since his death. By June, his estate projects they will have made around $250 million in the last year alone. This is easy money: the Michael Jackson death cult is the most vigorous and lucrative thing the music industry presently has going. Like his dad said: “He’s worth more dead than when he was alive.” May that clown see exactly none of the money.