The Music Industry: Still Profitable (Provided You’re Dead)

Oct 30th, 2007 // 4 Comments

deadelvis.jpgAttention destitute musicians wondering how to make a buck in this mixed-up musical economy: Judging by how many musicians appear in Forbes magazine’s list of the “Top-Earning Dead Celebrities,” the answer might be the dirt nap.

1. Elvis Presley
2. John Lennon
3. Charles M. Schulz
4. George Harrison
5. Albert Einstein
6. Andy Warhol
7. Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel)
8. Tupac Shakur
9. Marilyn Monroe
10. Steve McQueen
11. James Brown
12. Bob Marley
13. James Dean

People are noting Kurt Cobain dropping off the list after taking the top spot in ’06, but considering Nirvana’s catalog is relatively small, relatively un-repackaged (no endless greatest hits compilations or Greatest Ballads-style collections), and relatively static (holler at Tupac), Courtney’s one-time sale of the Cobain songbook last year was always going to be a blip in an otherwise profitable-but-not-crazy-profitable estate. 50 million Elvis fans, people. They are never wrong. And they buy everything.

Top-Earning Dead Celebrities [Forbes via Rolling Stone]


  1. Chris N.

    Where does the Einstein estate make all that cheddar?

  2. Ned Raggett

    There are always going to be physics-studying undergrads with a new poster of him sticking his tongue out on their dorm wall.

  3. Halfwit

    @Chris N.: College posters, man… college posters.

    Actually, do you think that any patents or copyrights came out of his ideas? I know that you can’t copyright an idea, but I would assume that something tangible must’ve come out of all his work.

  4. worldsfair

    well good old Al did start his career working at the Patents Office.

    and you so CAN patent an idea – it’s not exactly the same idea as a “copywrite” in the sense of intellectual property i media, but ideas get patented, or at least attempts are made, all the time.

    but for Al i’m guessng a good chunk comes from publishing of his books, memoirs and essays. Maybe a few small inventions/patents here or there i’m not aware of…

    but specifically w.r.t. the “destitute musicians” addressed in this post – um the solution to making your money in the biz is not to die so that your catalog prospers… if you look at the Forbes list every musician there achieved fame and fortune during their lifetimes…

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