Michael Jackson is the richest deceased musician, but also richer than most every musician alive

Michael Jackson had dead but thanks to the ugly
ongoing trial of Dr. Conrad Murray and
the steady stream of tributes in MJ’s
memory, his passing still feels quite fresh.
Time certainly hasn’t slowed the stream of
posthumous income for Jackson, who
according to Forbes is the most successful
dead celebrity and is the number two
money-maker among all musicians.
Between October 2010 and October
2011, Jackson pulled in $170 million
thanks to music sales and licensing. That’s
down from the $275 million he made the
previous year, but his album sales remain
pretty steady, and the income from the
just-launched Cirque Du Soleil production
Michael Jackson: The Immortal World
Tour could keep him at the top of the list
for a while.
It’s not surprising that Jackson earns so
much more than other dead celebrities,
but it’s a little shocking that he takes in
more than almost any other living
musician. Over the past year, only U2
made more money than Jackson, and they
had to go on a lengthy, health-threatening
tour that ended up being the most
lucrative of all time.
Obviously, a lot of these Jackson-centric
projects and renewed record sales would
not be what they are had he not passed
away, but even still, these are singularly
impressive numbers. When you consider
the richest musicians, almost all of their
income is derived from touring, which is
why there’s always so much turnover
from year to year (if Bruce Springsteen
doesn’t tour, he makes significantly less
based on back catalog sales and licensing
alone).
Though Lady Gaga sold a million copies of
Born This Way in a week, the money she
cleared on that album is chicken feed
compared to the dump trucks full of cash
her Monster Ball tour brought in.
Legacy acts can rely on album sales up to
a point (especially if they are like AC/DC
and don’t ever release a greatest-hits
album), but the road still represents the
big bucks. When Jackson’s posthumous
income flirts with a quarter of a billion
dollars next year, he’ll have touring (or
“touring,” as a hologram) to thank as well.

Michael Jackson Remembered
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to attend Conrad Murray trial
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Jackson’s children appear at controversial
tribute show