Michael Jackson and the "Zombieconomy"

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Snip from a Harvard Business blog post by Umair Haque on the digital-age business lessons to be learned from Michael Jackson's death, and analysis of the purported revenue from his career over the last three decades:
Want to know why we have a zombieconomy? Because the beancounters killed the incentives to create real value.

Let's use MJ's tragic death as a mini case-study. $300 million over, for example, 25 years? That's $12 million a year.

I'm deliberately leaving out ads, endorsements, concerts, etc., to focus on the the structural problems in one industry: music.

If the world's biggest pop star only made $12 million a year from his recordings, why would anyone make serious music? Where did the rest of the money go? Why, straight into record labels' pockets. Did they make better music with it? Nope — they made Britney and Lady GaGa. And that's how they killed themselves: by underinvesting in quality, to rake in the take.

Wait a second — that sounds familiar. You can add back in the endorsements, etc. now — they only double the figure: to about $25 million.

If the world's biggest pop star only made $25 million a year in total, something's very, very wrong. Where's the rest of the money? Why can't a resource as scarce as the King of Pop capture more value?

Michael Jackson and the Zombieconomy (via Bob Lefsetz)