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Mon, Jul 06, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Michael Jackson death fuels business bonanza

CHALLENGES INTO OPPORTUNITIES: The promoter of Jackson’s comeback concerts said it has high-definition footage of the King of Pop’s rehearsals before he passed away


T-shirt vendor Dave Kay displays his shirts outside the gates of Michael Jackson’s former residence, Neverland Ranch, in Los Olivos, California, on Saturday.


From T-shirt salesmen to billion-dollar entertainment companies, Michael Jackson’s death has triggered a bonanza for business ventures big and small.

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 business 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 US$30 million into preparations for the shows and could have been liable for up to US$85 million 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 (HD) 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 US$17 million 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 US and the UK.

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 with sales of just 10,000 copies in the week that ended June 21.


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