Forbes collects a list of the highest-earning dead celebrities each year, consisting of several icons whose legacies extend far beyond their mortal lives. And every year, two names never fail to be part of the list, and they are always on top. Who are they? No other than the King of Rock and the King of Pop, Elvis Presley, and Michael Jackson compiled by Jack Green and Barry Massarsky at Betway’s Insider.
Where Do Their Earnings Go?
One question you might have in mind is where the earnings of these dead artists go. Most of the time, a large amount of their payments goes to their family and friends. It means that the people receiving them haven’t done any work to earn them. This is also why some believe that the federal estate tax should be raised a great deal.
What happens to the money depends on the person receiving it. For example, in Michael Jackson’s case, his children have been struggling to lead everyday lives after being initially burdened with a considerable amount of their father’s debt. The earnings of these artists can give their families the freedom to pay off debts and donate to charities, as well.
Musicians like Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, and more may be dead, but they are still playing a crucial role in keeping music and music streaming alive. And the value of their music is likely to increase even further as older people who listen to their music are also adjusting to the changing industry as they are again starting to use streaming services today. It means that these artists will continue to earn in the years to come.
Success Depends on Longevity
It is also possible that what gets released after the death of an artist is sub-par, which can tarnish that person’s legacy. But there is always a spike in sales immediately after an artist dies, and sometimes it eventually slows. Therefore, it truly depends on whether the artist’s work is of classic status in the long run. For example, we can say that Elvis Presley’s song will be famous for centuries. This can explain why creative artists, such as Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley, continue to earn millions, respectively, every year.
Aside from having classic hits, another thing that can push sales higher is a controversial death, as it can draw a great deal of media buzz. It’s because when you compare an artist that has lived a full life and dies at 90 to an artist who dies at 27 in a hotel room, and nobody knows the clear reason why or what happened, the latter will get more media attention and will spark the interest of fans more, as well.
Michael Jackson is the highest-earning departed musician. He wrote lots of influential chart-toppers, including Thriller, Billie Jean, and Human Nature, which are some of the best performers in the industry has ever seen. Michael Jackson has been gone for a decade, and yet, he still earned a whopping $60 million in 2019. When he died, he had an estate worth half a billion but continued to make more after suffering a heart attack. His earnings were doubled.
When Michael Jackson died, his will was clear that he left the bulk of his estate to his mother, wife, and three children. The executors designated in his will have turned around his finances, generating over $600 million in earnings. They earned profits from several song catalogs that Michael Jackson acquired when he was still alive. In addition to that is Cirque de Soleil shows in Las Vegas, posthumous albums, a documentary, and other marketing and endorsement deals.
Michael Jackson’s streaming surged from 1.8 billion spins in 2018 to 2.1 billion spins the following year in the United States. With proceeds from his Mijac Music catalog, a Las Vegas show, and a long-term deal with Sony, the King of Pop retains his postmortem cash crown for the seventh time in a row.