The music industry, and especially the four major labels, have made a significant shift, and one emblematised by Sony's deal with the Michael Jackson estate: from a model predicated on signing new talent, with all the attendant pitfalls and shortfalls that entails, to one where the real money is made maximising revenue from tried and tested acts by selling their work to an older demographic that buys CDs at the supermarket.
Death need not be an obstacle – indeed, it may actually help. Consider a few of the artists in this week's album chart: Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Dean Martin, Matt Monro, and Gracie Fields, as well as Jackson himself. They all benefit from a marketable mystique that the living cannot match.
Of course, no one can rival Jackson's appeal. Since its release in October last year, Michael Jackson's Is This It has shifted more than 5m units. There is certainly plenty of scope to revisit and re-energize the Jackson catalogue, and also release material like 'Another Day', a Jackson collaboration with Lenny Kravitz, which surfaced earlier this year.
If the success of the Beatles remasters, or the enduring popularity of the likes of Elvis and Nirvana, are anything to go by, the possibilities for commercial exploitation will remain undiminished for some time yet. And Sony won't stop 'till they get enough.Reuse content