Michael Jackson's Estate Inks Biggest Recording Deal In History

Michael Jackson's newest contract could net his estate up to $250 million

ByDan Harris and Hanna Siegel
March 16, 2010, 4:47 PM

March 16, 2010— -- The King of Pop has managed to break yet another record.

Michael Jackson's estate has made a deal with Sony Music for nine albums over the next seven years.

It's the biggest deal in the history of the business and it could net the Jacksons over $200 million.

In the eight years before Jackson died, he struggled mightily with medical, legal and financial problems and did not release any albums of original material.

Nonetheless, he was constantly writing and recording new songs.

Today's record deal means those songs will now see the light of day, with the first new record scheduled to be released this November.

"They can take these tracks and go back in the studio with folks like Quincy Jones, who worked with Michael, have him polish it up so they could get it to the standard that we are used to," says Jim Henke, Curator of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Jackson has sold hundreds of millions of records worldwide, including the bestselling album of all time, "Thriller." He has released 13 number-one singles, won 13 Grammys and been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice.

There's plenty of evidence to suggest this new material will sell briskly.

Since Jackson's death in June, his estate has already seen big profits, from music, merchandise and tickets to the concert film "This Is It," whose soundtrack has sold 5 million copies worldwide.

Sony has sold an estimated 31 million copies of his albums since Jackson died and his estate expects to have earned a quarter of a billion dollars by the anniversary of his death this June.

"I think that, as with most artists, death is not a bad career move for the estate and for the record company," says Craig Marks, Editor of Billboard Magazine.

We've seen it before. Elvis Presley has sold 31.2 million albums since his death. Since 1991, the year Queen's front man Freddie Mercury died, his band has sold 19.3 million albums. Nirvana has had two number-one albums since front man Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994.

Over time, as the tabloid tint fades, and with roughly sixty unreleased songs in the vault, fans of Michael Jackson can expect another productive period in a career that will outlive the man.

ABC's Sarah Netter contributed to this report

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