The record-breaking deal in which Michael Jackson's estate will get up to $250 million in the next seven years probably isn't a huge gamble for the company that will pay the money out, Sony Music Entertainment.
Before he died last June at age 50, Jackson, a prolific songwriter, left dozens of unreleased recordings that are sure to be in high demand, according to The Associated Press. Those include studio sessions from some of his best albums and recently recorded songs made with the likes of Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am.
Under a deal announced yesterday, Sony has guaranteed Jackson's estate $200 million for 10 projects during the next seven years. One of them, a movie and album called "This Is It," is already completed. If certain conditions are met, the payment could rise to $250 million.
Since Jackson's death, estate co-administrator John McClain, a childhood friend and Jackson producer, has combed through boxes of tapes and recordings Jackson left behind. McClain and the other co-administrator, John Branca, who cut the Sony deal, each stand to make 5 percent on every new dollar of revenue brought into the estate.
Even if only half of them are commercially viable, that would be enough for two or three albums. And some songs could also be packaged with already-heard material.
Jackson's own two-disc set that accompanied the concert rehearsal footage in "This Is It" has sold 5 million copies, and it had only one new song. That was the title song, which Jackson wrote with Paul Anka around the time the "Thriller" album was becoming a smash hit.
"He always said his children would never have anything to worry about because he had volumes of songs to release," said Raymone Bain, who began representing Jackson during his child molestation trial in 2005.
Tommy Mottola, who from 1998 to 2003 was chairman and chief executive of Sony Music, said last summer that Jackson's posthumous releases could outsell even those from Elvis Presley, whose voice has graced about 300 compilation albums since his death in 1977.