A shopper browses through a shelf to buy a Michael Jackson CD at a music store in Hollywood section of Los Angeles, Thursday, June 25, 2009. Since Jackson’s death on Thursday, there has been an enormous, almost unprecedented demand for the King of Pop’s music. — PHOTO: AP
NEW YORK – MICHAEL Jackson had a mountain of unreleased recordings in the vault when he died – music that is almost certain to be packaged and repackaged for his fans in the years to come.
The material includes unused tracks from studio sessions of some of Jackson’s best albums, as well as more recently recorded songs made with Senegalese R&B singer and producer Akon and Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am.
‘There are dozens and dozens of songs that did not end up on his albums,’ said Mr Tommy Mottola, who from 1998 to 2003 was chairman and CEO of Sony Music, which owns the distribution rights to Jackson’s music. ‘People will be hearing a lot of that unreleased material for the first time ever. There’s just some genius and brilliance in there.’ The releases, Mr Mottola said, ‘could go on for years and years – even more than Elvis.’
Since Jackson’s death on Thursday, there has been an enormous, almost unprecedented demand for the King of Pop’s music. Nielsen SoundScan said Wednesday that three of his records – ‘Number Ones,’ ‘Essential Michael Jackson’ and ‘Thriller – were the best-selling albums of the week, and 2.3 million tracks of his have been downloaded in the US alone.
When a music star of Jackson’s stature dies, labels typically comb through their archives to pull out anything they can release.
New compilations of recordings by performers such as Elvis, Tupac and Jeff Buckley are still released nearly every year.
Mr Mottola, who has described himself as the ‘shepherd and gatekeeper’ of Jackson’s catalog and is familiar with it better than anyone, said that for every album Jackson made – including classics like 1979’s ‘Off the Wall’ and 1982’s ‘Thriller’ – he recorded several tracks that didn’t make it onto the records.
(Mr Mottola had only laudatory things to say about Jackson, who criticised Mr Mottola in 2002 as a racist. Among those who defended Mottola at the time was the Rev. Al Sharpton.) The details of who owns Jackson’s unreleased music and concert footage are not entirely clear. Sony Music declined to comment. A person involved with the label who requested anonymity said no new projects or compilations are being planned yet.
The Jackson family has not publicly discussed plans for Jackson’s catalog. In a 2002 will filed in court on Wednesday, the pop star left his entire estate to a family trust, with his mother and his children named as beneficiaries.