Michael Jackson Made $1 Billion Since Death

This may be unseemly to say, but it’s sadly true: Michael Jacksonmight be worth more dead than alive. Thanks in part to a lucrative new record deal with Sony Music that extends through 2017 and the most successful concert film of all time, Billboard estimates that MJ Inc. has generated at least $1 billion in revenue in the year following his death. Through interviews with industry experts and our own number-crunching, Billboard examines the various music-based revenue streams that have flowed into the Jackson estate in the past 12 months.

Music Sales

Value: $429 million

Since his death, Jackson has sold approximately 9 million albums in the United States, while the Jackson 5 and the Jacksons have sold about 800,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Outside the States, Jackson’s album sales for the past year stand at around 24 million units. Based on a blended worldwide retail sales price of $11.62 ($12.30 per unit less mechanical royalties), Billboard estimates that Jackson’s album catalog generated about $383 million in sales.

On the digital side, Jackson’s songs have generated 12.9 million track downloads in the United States in the past 12 months, according to SoundScan. Based on those figures, Billboard estimates that the total number of worldwide downloads is about 26.5 million units, with a value of $34 million (net of mechanical royalties).

Jackson’s ringtone sales totaled 1.5 million last year in the States, with the bulk coming after his death. Digital ringtones sales worldwide are about twice that stateside, which brings Jackson’s global ringtone tally to 3 million. At $2 per unit, ringtone revenue was about $5 million last year (net of mechanical royalties).

Monies generated from subscription services and digital performance royalties typically amount to about one-third that of mobile revenue, so Jackson’s catalog probably generated about $2 million from those streams.

U.S. digital performance royalties represent about 13% of the revenue generated by single track downloads. Applying that rate to global track sales, Jackson’s recording catalog generated another $4.5 million from global digital performances.

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