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Artists' after-death sales 'up 50%'

Published 16/04/2015

A study of artists like Michael Jackson showed sales increased by more than 50% after their deaths
A study of artists like Michael Jackson showed sales increased by more than 50% after their deaths

Death is good for business in the music industry, according to an academic study that found fans flock to buy discs by the recently departed.

Researchers discovered sales increasing by more than 50% in some cases after examining examples including Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Lou Reed.

Leif Brandes, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Warwick Business School, said the sales boost came from nostalgic fans and new listeners who became aware of acts after the publicity surrounding their deaths.

Dr Brandes said: "Our research indicates death-related publicity serves primarily as informational advertising that informs new customers.

"However, complementary survey evidence reveals that death-related publicity also triggers considerable nostalgic reactions and personal mortality salience - a feeling of their own mortality - from existing record-owners.

"This all leads to sales more than 50% up on figures pre-death.

"There is also a marked sales increase on an artist's more critically well-received albums, which shows the importance of new customers for after-death sales figures."

Researchers looked at 446 albums from 77 acts who died between 1992 and 2010, including stars like Jackson, Wilson Pickett, Dusty Springfield, Aaliyah and Notorious B.I.G. and found album sales increased on average by 54.1% in the four months after death compared to the four months before death.

In the case of Houston, a week after her death three of her albums were in the US Billboard top 10.

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