Surge in Jackson Sales Triggers Hot New Marketing Plan

(Hollywood) - A huge spike in the sales of Michael Jackson's once-mordant music catalog has set off a wave of speculation about the use of sudden death to bring the CD market back to life.

Jackson's albums sold 1.7 million copies during the week following his death, roughly 15 times the previous week's sales. Digital downloads experienced a similar jump. While some increases were noted after the deaths of John Denver, George Harrison, and Jerry Garcia, music industry executives were unable to fully capitalize on the events until now.

"We finally started connecting the dots," said one music label president, speaking anonymously. "We've seen now how dying actually puts new wind in the sales."

A Grammy-winning music producer commented that his company was willing to pay "a huge nut" to coax convicted wall-of-sound innovator Phil Spector to die. "His catalog is vast, and it's not generating anything except for that Christmas album, and that's for, like, ten days," he said. "We've nearly convinced Phil that a prison stabbing or, if necessary, hanging with a bed sheet, would substantially raise his numbers." Spector has not returned calls at press time.

Other acts reported to be in negotiations to die are Bobby Brown, Michael Bolton, The Beastie Boys, and Phil Collins. "You can't deny the amazing potential for an evergreen property," said Rand Drachma, attorney for the classic-rock band Aerosmith. "The boys are all talking it over to see who's willing to step up."

In the past two weeks, a team of industry attorneys has approached Barbra Streisand and two members of Crosby Stills and Nash, although as time passes the returns become somewhat lower. "'N Sync has a good chance to get back in the top 100 if they all go at once, and two of the guys are looking at December," said Drachma. "And Neil Diamond--well, he's platinum."

Amy Winehouse, who died in 2007, has steadfastly refused to sell-out to commercial interests. "Man, she's stubborn," her agent, Mo Funt, said with a chuckle. "She's determined to wring out every drop of surprise, isn't she?" Funt hinted that Winehouse is doing final mixes on a posthumous collection of rhythm and blues covers. "She wants to get everything in order before she finally takes 'the big nap,'" he said.

When the question of such marketing was put to the management team for The Rolling Stones, only guitarist Keith Richards responded in a terse email. "We missed our window," he said.


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