BY JENELLE TAYLOR
“Billie Jean was not his lover, just a girl…” But even six years after his death, “Billie Jean” and several other Michael Jackson hit singles still resonate amongst a crowd. His voice, the swiftness of his feet, or simply the sweat that dropped from his jerry curl on a thriller filled night, still manages to turn heads and grasp the attention of many today.
“I’m immensely a Michael fan,” said Bryan Graves, lead operator of York College radio station. “I even wore my hair like him. I’ve been a fan since the Jackson 5. He was the youngest, smallest, and had the ability to do what he did at that age, which turned the world on their ears. ”
Although Michael Jackson passed away on June 25th, 2009, Charlotte Austin, Business Management student at Fashion Institute of Technology, believes his legacy continues to live on.
“He’s an icon who made an image for himself. He’s automatically recognized by his sound, face, and voice. He’s an international figure.”
According to Forbes magazine, Michael Jackson has yet again earned the number one spot on its “Top-Earning Dead Celebrities” list. He managed to pull in $115 million within the past year.
After hearing about Jackson earning the number one spot in Forbes magazine, Arlene Tejada, York college theater arts major, was surprised.
“Oh wow, I didn’t even know that,” stated Tejada. She recalled his albums, Michael and Xscape, published after his death.
“One of the ways his legacy continues to live on is because there were songs/albums produced after his death. He was very passionate and committed about his work. [Jackson had] different genders, melodies, and styles to him. That’s what made him different. He did a lot of hard work and his legacy should still be around even though he’s not,” Tejada explained.
After the release of his album Xscape, the Billboard Music Awards offered fans a Michael Jackson tribute. The “Slave to the Rhythm” performance featured a hologram of Jackson. He was seen blessing the stage with his killer dance moves and heart piercing vocals.
“My brother showed me a video of [Jackson’s] hologram at the show,” said Tejada. “Holograms have their pros and their cons. I thought it was good but then again it felt odd because he’s not really there. You’re just seeing a computer figure. It’s only good because you remember the artist even though they’re no longer here.”
Jasmine Brown, 21, a York art history major shares Tejada’s sentiments.
“I’m in between about holograms,” Brown said adding, “I like them because it’s more 4D than 3D, and you feel like the person is actually there. But with dead people it’s a little creepy. Because they’re dead but it feels like they’re really here.”
She also remembers Jackson to be very business savvy.
“He was about his business and made sure his family was provided for. He still earns money not only because of the fact that people still buy his music, but because of all the different things he was into.”
Jackson had dreams of owning rights to artists songs. He slowly began pursuing his dream by investing millions into other artists publishing rights.
ln 1984, Robert Holmes à Court was looking to sell the Beatles music catalogue with ATV Music publishing.
According to Forbes Magazine, after months of negotiations, ATV Music was sold to Jackson for 47.5 billion dollars. This allowed him to own the rights to several Beatles hit singles within their catalogue.
About ten years later, SONY executives pitched the idea of merging ATV music with their company. Jackson was all in, and changed the brands name to SONY/ATV Music Publishing . This offered an opportunity for him to grow the corporation into a billion dollar musical enterprise.
Billboard magazine stated Jackson’s estate is now earning half of what both ATV music and SONY was pulling in. They were splitting the company 50/50.
Jackson is no longer with us, but he does have a team who oversees his business and is in charge of making sure the correct people receive their accolades.
“Jackson’s entity is now like a business,” states Charlotte Austin. “In order to use his picture, logo, or anything he has legal rights to, you must get permission from his agency. Most likely his family, agency, and estate are the ones who continue to earn his funds today.”
This is Jackson’s second time making it to the top of Forbes’ “Top Earning Dead Celebrities” list. There’s no telling if he will maintain the number one spot within years to come. One can only assume that Jackson paved the way for new artists in the future and his legacy will continue to live on.
“He will still be making money within the next 10 years,” Graves said adding, “It won’t be the amount it is now. In 10 years, [the] music industry will have equaled his talent or production or gone slightly beyond. But he’ll continue making money and the family will as well.”
Celebrities such as Chris Brown, Usher, and Ciara continue to pay homage to the late singer at their concerts and annual award shows. To make it their own, they each added their own twists during their choreographs to Jackson’s infamous Moonwalk, lean, spin, toe stand, and pelvic thrust.
But no matter how many people create their own rendition to the pop sensation, Graves believes there is no one that can compare to the king of pop, Michael Jackson.
“He was global. No matter what language you spoke, you identified with him. Michael was a pioneer in his own light and who knows where he might be today. He’s almost untouchable and there’s no one like him,” Graves added.