Jackson's Death Proves Big Money For Business Big and Small

by Tanya Thomas on Jul 6 2009 10:53 AM

From small time t-shirt salesmen to big billion-dollar entertainment companies, Michael Jackson's death has triggered a bonanza for business ventures one and all.

Within hours of the King of Pop's demise, hawkers appeared with t-shirts commemorating the icon while Hollywood tour groups scrambled to include the mansion where Jackson died on their sightseeing itineraries.

They were just two examples of the wide range of entrepreneurial opportunities that have opened up in the wake of Jackson's death on June 25.

At the higher end of the scale, AEG Live, the promoters of Jackson's 50-date set of London comeback concerts are confident of turning potentially catastrophic losses into healthy profits.

The company had ploughed up to 30 million dollars into preparations for the shows and could have been liable for up to 85 million dollars in refunds to some 750,000 people who had bought tickets.

But AEG Live chief executive Randy Phillips told reporters that many fans would seek to hold onto their tickets as a unique souvenir in lieu of a refund, meaning the company could turn a profit.

More significantly, AEG Live has extensive high-definition video and audio recordings of Jackson's rehearsals, material that could represent a goldmine, particularly as Jackson never released a live concert album.

"We have over 100 hours of documentary footage done in HD of every single meeting, audition, rehearsal," Phillips said. "This is really the last great work of a 20th-century genius."

AEG Live also had an insurance policy worth 17 million dollars if it was determined Jackson's death was accidental.

Meanwhile, sales of the pop icon's music have skyrocketed in the 10 days after his death, annexing the music charts in United States and Britain.

The singer's albums occupied nine of the top 10 spots on the Top Pop Catalog Album chart released by Billboard on Wednesday.

Jackson's album "Number Ones" was number one on sales of 108,000 copies during the week that ended on June 28, followed by "The Essential Michael Jackson" and "Thriller" on sales of 102,000 and 101,000 respectively.

Billboard said Jackson's solo albums sold 415,000 copies this past week, compared to sales of just 10,000 copies in the week that ended June 21.

"The level of dominance by Michael Jackson on the top pop catalog albums chart is unlike anything we've ever seen on any Billboard chart, regardless if it occurred pre- or post-death," Billboard charts director Silvio Pietroluongo told The New York Times.

Industry analysts have predicted the Jackson music boom could last for several months.

In Britain, music retailer HMV reported an 80-fold increase in demand for Jackson's music "almost overnight" -- the biggest one-day rise in sales seen for any artists, including Elvis Presley and John Lennon.

Meanwhile, over 53,000 Michael Jackson-related items were being offered for sale on Saturday at online auction house, nine days after his death.

They ranged from a parcel of Web domain names --, for example -- at 21 million dollars to photographs of Jackson for a few cents.

Of the products offered for sale, nearly 16,600 were music recordings and nearly 20,500 were memorabilia.