Michael Jackson's death is a great career move
Jul 2nd 2009 11:30AM
Updated Dec 4th 2009 5:50PM
In the week since Michael Jackson's passing, sales of his music have gone through the roof. Although it's been over 25 years since his music -- in the form of his "Thriller" album -- naturally topped the charts, people have been in a frenzy to buy his music in the week since his death.
The increase in Jackson's music sales were 40 times those of his last week of life. The three best-selling albums in the United States last week were all by Michael Jackson: "Number Ones" sold 108,000 copies; "The Essential Michael Jackson" sold 102,000; and "Thriller" sold 101,000. In total, 422,000 copies of Jackson's albums were sold in the week that ended on Sunday.
Jackson achieved tremendous online sales in the last week. 57 percent of his album sales were digital downloads, and separate from album sales, 2.3 million downloads of single tracks were sold. This performance blows away previous sales records. Since 2004, when SoundScan began tracking downloads, no artist had sold more than 1 million tracks in one week -- until Michael Jackson.
Jackson has also blown away the competition in terms of post-death album sales. The week after Kurt Cobain died in 1994, sales of Nirvana albums rose over 150 percent, to 77,000. When Notorious B.I.G. was killed in 1997, his album "Life After Death" was just about to be released. It sold 689,000 copies in its first week.
In the 1980s, Michael Jackson was King of Pop. He took a 25 year break. And in death he has been restored to his throne.
Peter Cohan is president of Peter S. Cohan & Associates. He also teaches management at Babson College. His eighth book is You Can't Order Change: Lessons from Jim McNerney's Turnaround at Boeing.