In life, Michael Jackson struggled for decades to reach the record-smashing sales he achieved with 1983's landmark Thriller album. But since his unexpected passing on June 25 at the age of 50, the self-proclaimed King of Pop has once again become the most dominant musical figure on the planet.
Jackson's albums and compilations have locked down the top 10 on the Top Pop Catalog Albums chart in the United States for the past three weeks, selling more than 2.3 million albums since the singer's death, including 1.1 million over the past seven days. At a time when most contemporary stars struggle to notch sales of more than 2 or 3 million, the numbers are impressive, but they're even better when sales across the globe are factored in. According to the Los Angeles Times, an unidentified source with knowledge of sales figures for the catalog said that more than 9 million Jackson albums have been sold worldwide since June 25.
While Sony Music, which controls Jackson's solo adult catalog, would not comment to the Times or MTV News on sales figures, a spokeswoman for the label did not dispute the 9 million sales figure. In addition to ruling over the U.S. catalog charts, Jackson's albums have perched atop similar charts in France, Germany, Australia and England over the past three weeks.
"We're seeing a real outpouring from fans and consumers who are looking to connect and get past what's happened — the tragedy of his death — through attaching themselves to his music," Gary Arnold, senior entertainment officer for Best Buy, told the Times. Arnold said fans aren't just buying Jackson's global breakthrough Thriller, but rather a broad range of the singer's music, from the early Jackson 5 material to his later solo albums.
Considering the many unresolved issues around Jackson's estate, his cause of death, the custody of his three children and a potential all-star tribute concert in England later this year, Arnold predicted sales would remain strong, and possibly surge, through Christmas.
Though Amazon.com doesn't typically reveal sales figures, a spokesperson for the company said customer response to Jackson's death has been unprecedented, resulting in more orders for Jackson CDs and MP3s in the first 24 hours after his death than in the previous 11 years the Amazon music store has been open.
Even jukeboxes are seeing a huge uptick in Jackson action, with leading digital jukebox company TouchTunes reporting that the singer's songs were ordered up nearly 1 million times on its 38,000 jukeboxes since his death. Also seeking to cash in on the surge of interest, the British stage musical "Thriller Live" announced that the tribute show would relaunch in Europe this month and hit several U.S. cities over the next year. Jackson cover band Who's Bad also quickly booked a North American tour that will keep them on the road through November.
While bootleggers were quick to seize on the interest in Jackson memorabilia, AEG Live, the promoter of Jackson's This Is It series of concerts at London's O2 Arena, began selling the official merchandise intended for the 50-show run last week. The company has also discussed mounting a version of the show Jackson was preparing before the end of the year, as well as releasing a DVD of his rehearsal footage.
For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit "Michael Jackson Remembered."