The life of an artist is plenty of peaks and troughs. Some of them never reach success in their living, some will die at 27 after a brief but brilliant career.
In this article, I will refer to musicians when I use “artists” because of the wide range of art prodigies.
With the advent of the streaming platforms (Spotify anticipates that total monthly users will increase to 199-206 million and Spotify Premium users to 93-96 million in the final quarter of 2018.), everyone can gain access to the work of almost every single artist in the world. Now that this point is stated, we will focus on the death and sells of a few artists : David Bowie, Kurt Cobain and Micheal Jackson. The data of the Billboard magazines are being use as reference.
“As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I take a look at my life and realize there’s not much left”
When the King of Pop died of a drug overdose in June 2009 at the age of 50, his death was accompanied by the massive increase in sales. It also caused Billboard magazine to alter its own rules regarding older catalog albums like 1982′s “Thriller,” still the best-selling album in the world. At the origins, Billboard’s policy was to remove any album more than 2 years old from its top 200 album chart, regardless how it was selling. When Jackson died, “Thriller” and the 2003 compilation “Number Ones” became the two top-selling albums in the US, causing Billboard to allow those albums to take their rightful places on its chart.
“Blackstar” of the late David Bowie was released a few days before his death in January 2016. A week later, the album debuted at No°1 on the Billboard charts.
David Bowie is a legend (and it is normal you might say). However, it is the first time that he achieved the No°1 album in the US. According to the The Telegraph, additionally he became the highest-selling artist on vinyl in 2016.
Kurt Cobain has commited suicide in April 1994, in the aftermath, all three of Nirvana’s original studio albums made significant gains on the charts.
According to Billboard, “In Utero,” jumped from the No. 72 spot to the No. 27 spot. The band’s breakthrough album, 1991′s “Nevermind” experienced a sales increase of almost 200 percent. “Bleach”, the band’s 1989 debut, made its first-ever appearance in the Top Pop Catalog chart hitting No. 6.
These are only three cases of hundreds. Indeed, artists get a tremendous renown after their death. Sales remain a significant part of an artist’s fame. We can conclude that their death which boosted their sales has also boosted their fame. Some of them have assured themselves a seat among the legends upon their death.
Thanks to the digital, now we have access to limitless library of everything. Without the digital, will the artist get so much renown after their death? Or will they be forgotten with time like the majority of us did for the past brilliant artists?