Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Best-selling album still sells... but for how much?

I wasn't surprised in the least when I heard that sealed copies of Micheal Jackson's Thriller were selling in online auctions for a thousand bucks a pop immediately following his death. There has always been this hustled fascination with fallen artists' work, as well as an impulse to hoard everything by the deceased artist that one can. Instant nostalgia is one cause of this phenomenon, but more often than that, it simply comes down to money.

The situation with Jackson's inflated secondary market sales is one that personally sickens me. All the Jackson gossip, jokes, and news reports don't even come close to annoying me on the level that this pseudo-inflation does. This is no different than the sales of pictures of the twin towers selling in auction on September 12th 2001. To me it's pathetic, and the fools who think they can get over on others at Michael's expense sicken me. Here are a few real situations I came across, followed by my opinionated (and more accurate) translation.

"Collector's Michael Jackson Picture Album"

Online Auction. Buy it Now: $600,000

Actual Listing Description:

Limited Edition Michael Jackson album picture disk edition with plastic sleeve. The album has the picture of the original Thriller album of Michael Jackson in the white suit. The other side has Michael in a brown jacket and a belt with a guitar buckle. The plastic sleeve is slightly bent but still protect the album, which is in mint condition. Album has only been played once.

IMFA Translation:

This record is not as common as the standard release of MJ's Thriller. It's essentially a record, with a picture of Mike on each side, that contains all the songs found on the Thriller album. It comes in a hard plastic case that has a nasty crease in it. Don't worry, the record inside is in great shape regardless!

Actual Retail Price: $5 before his death, $20 after.

"Michael Jackson Thriller Vinyl LP"
Online Auction. Starting Bid: $475,000

Actual Listing Description:

This is an original Michael Jackson Thriller Vinyl LP. It is marked as a QE38112 first release! The record is in excellent condition! This is a rare opportunity to buy the album that rocketed Michael Jackson into superstardom, in its original form as it was released in 1982. The album opens up to a double spread of Michael Jackson with the tiger cub. It has the gold stamp of CBS on the back upper corner, another rare trait of this particular album. If you are a true fan or collector of Michael Jackson this is one item that is a must have!!! Album is suitable for framing, gifting, storing, and playing. Item will be shipped safely, securely and promptly. Returns are not accepted.

IMFA Translation:

This is the same record that sold 50 million copies worldwide. This is an earlier copy that was used for promotions to record stores, radio stations etc. so it has a gold CBS "property of" stamp in the corner. This makes it a little bit more obscure (if you can even use the term "obscure" when talking about a copy of Thriller), but thousands and thousands of copies still exist. Returns not accepted because if you are dumb enough, and actually buy this record, someone will break the sad news to you eventually and you will undoubtedly demand a refund.

Actual Retail Price: $5 - $10 if properly marketed and sold as a promo copy.

"Rare Jackson Five Recording"

Online Auction: Buy it Now $1,000,000

Actual Listing Description:

Rare Jackson Five 45 record from Gary, In. recording studio Steel Town Records 1025 Taney Street Gary, In. produced by Gordon Keith and Sandy Wilborn one of the first records ever recorded by Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five. Song titles We Don't Have To Be Over 21 (To Fall In Love) And Jam Session.

IMFA Translation:

I hope whoever sees this auction really takes my word for it, doesn't do any research and shells out a million dollars for this record. What's even more interesting about this piece is that not only is it really only worth about $20 on the secondary market, but it's not even the first orange label pressing on Steel Town. If it was however, it could fetch upwards of $100 bucks in auction. Shipping is Free!

Actual Retail price: $20 plus shipping.


Anonymous said...

people suck, man. greedy and self-serving.

Q: in your opinion IMFA, which music star's death would generate the buzz similar to MJ? I don't think anyone out there now could hold a month-long media blitz -- maybe Obama but he's not a musician.

Jeffo said...

Awesome question.

If you really think about it, the past three big deaths were Cobain 1994, Lennon 1980, and Presley 1977. They hit different demographics in different ways, but all pretty much shaped future music. There have been a handful of other stars who have passed, but I really think that John Lennon was the most recent death to cause a buzz as internationally prolific as MJ's death.

The question is: "What does it take for a star to cause so much commotion when he or she disappears as the result of an untimely death?"
With the state that music is currently in, I'm not sure who could do that. As controversial as his life became, anyone who lived in the past 40+ years could admit that Michael's music, words, ideas, or just plain presence has played a part in their life. In 2009, there unfortunately aren't too many musicians who have survived AND maintained their musical career in the way that Michael did. Admittedly, He didn't do anything groundbreaking for the past decade but a prying slew of celebrity-murdering media persons pushed Michael into seclusion which obviously had an affect on his writing,etc.

I honestly cannot name one person whom I think could touch the shock that everyone worldwide felt when they found out that Michael Jackson, The King of Pop was actual mortal like the rest of us.
Pop stars these days rarely earn the level of respect that Michael earned. If a star happens into a huge spotlight, they are gone and forgotten before anyone can even remember. Welcome to 2009: The ADD entertainment melting pot. I mean if Miley Cyrus got hit by a bus tomorrow the world might be a little upset, but they'd get over it. As much as it pains me to say, I think it would take the death of Sting or Bono to catch the world the way MJ's death did. But even then the discussion of Michael's death would prevail.

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