Michael Jackson's new album could top previous one
By Ed Christman
NEW YORK (Billboard) - Nearly a year and a half after the tragic death of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop continues to play a significant role in boosting the fortunes of his label Epic Records and its parent Sony Music Entertainment.
Jackson's total U.S. music sales are on pace to fall sharply in 2010 from last year, when grief over his untimely death on June 25, 2009, sparked a massive spike in sales of his catalog.
But Billboard estimates that Jackson's sales will still account for more than a fifth of Epic's overall recorded-music sales for 2010, helped by the highly anticipated December 14 release of "Michael" a collection of previously unreleased recordings.
Sony has been telling retailers that it expects "Michael" to generate U.S. sales in its first three weeks -- the final three weeks of 2010 -- that will top the first three weeks of sales for Jackson's 2009 hits collection "This Is It."
That seems like a tall order, considering that "This is It" was tied to the hit movie documentary of the same name and was released just four months after Jackson's death.
In addition, "Breaking News," the first song that Epic released from the album, drew a mixed reaction from radio programmers.
And notwithstanding Taylor Swift's remarkable million-plus, first-week sales for her album "Speak Now." the increasingly challenging sales environment for recorded music has contributed this year to disappointing debut weeks for albums from Katy Perry, Maroon 5, Kenny Chesney and the Zac Brown Band.
But given the timing of the release of "Michael," Sony's expectations don't appear to be overly optimistic. Continued...