By Eamonn Forde
It was 1977 when Colonel Tom Parker proclaimed “Elvis didn’t die – the body did. This changes nothing.” Ever since then, the management of artists’ estates has become a huge business in its own right. Life After Death speaks to those charged with running the estates of major artists such as Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Whitney Houston, David Bowie, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Buckley, Jim Morrison, the Ramones, Miles Davis and Isaac Hayes as well as a range of smaller estates, music lawyers, record companies, archivists and more.
The book explores in depth how they keep artists’ legacies alive, what happens when battles erupt between heirs, why not leaving a will is still a common mistake, how archives are managed, how an estate must respond when a scandal engulfs it, why estates are increasingly being sold as the business becomes industrialised and how holographic technologies raise complex ethical and economic debates about the future of estate and legacy management.
Estates have two jobs: keeping the artist’s name alive; and ensuring they continue to make money. These can sometimes be compatible goals but often they spark a tension that is unique in the music business.
Addressing a topic rarely discussed in detail, this fascinating book reveals how the popular music industry – once so focused on forward propulsion – has changed and how death has breathed new life into it.
Publication Date: 22.07.21
Extent: 352 pages
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