2016 has been a horrible year for celebrated artists deaths. Two huge names have been lost in the world of music already, Prince and David Bowie.
Prince was found in his home in Minnesota last week and the world is mourning the loss of one of the biggest and most influential artists of the last 30 years. Many fans will be thinking it is the end of an era but in fact it could be just the start. In a rather twisted change in the music industry, artists are rarely forgotten and can actually become bigger than when they were alive. Prince was valued at $300m at the time of his death and did not have any will to speak of. While the inevitable squabbles over his estate take place one thing is for certain, Prince and his music is not gone, there are plenty of dead musicians that are earning more now than when they were alive and touring.
The King of Pop died in 2009 aged 50. He was the biggest artist on the planet and was without doubt the biggest pop star the world has ever seen. Since his death however it did not all end there.
In 2015 alone Michael Jackson earned $115m! He seems to always appear at the top of any post-mortem earning lists and has earned over $1bn pre-tax since he died.
Veteran entertainment attorney Donald David explains that “The cash flow on an annual basis is tremendous, sure, it’s going to decline eventually, but it’s going to be a huge amount in the foreseeable future. Jackson’s kids are going to have grand kids before that money’s gone.”
Along with his catalogue of hits and publishing Jacko earns money through other ventures like Cirque du Soleil and publishing. Incredibly he earns more per year now, than any living solo artist.
Kurt Cobain was at the height of his powers in 1994 and seemed to speak for a generation of outsiders. His suicide in April of that year rocked the music world and ended an incredibly promising career. Strange as it seems however Cobain’s legacy has been an unusual success since the event. Courtney Love who owned his back catalogue sold 50% of it to a publisher for $50m.
Cobain seems to be one of the few artists who earning are growing as new fans keep finding his music. We know this as the publisher in question, one Larry Mestel sold the same rights seven years later for $150m, tripling his money! “His catalog has an income stream that has maintained a very steady pace and even growth when most music catalogs have fallen dramatically,” Mestel told CNBC.
Jimi Hendrix is widely celebrated as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. During his short career he managed to change the face of how we listen to electric guitars forever.
Songs such as Hey Joe and Foxy Lady has helped his estate amass $170m since his untimely death in 1970. He regularly brings in $8m a year despite when in his prime say at Woodstock he was paid a humble $18,000.
His empire includes alternative streams of income with guitar products, games and his old London flat has even been turned into a museum.
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