Last year, Sony Music Entertainment entered into a $250 million deal with Michael Jackson’s estate for the rights to distribute the musician’s recordings over the course of seven years. According to the Wall Street Journal, this deal will allow Sony to reap royalties from music streaming services and radio stations playing songs from the musician’s catalogue.
But this deal could take a hit as HBO is launching an explosive documentary series on MJ called ‘Leaving Neverland,’ which detail accounts of two men who accuse the singer of abusing them while they were children.
Figures from Spotify (SPOT) and Apple (AAPL) Music playing MJ’s songs in the wake of this explosive documentary are yet to be published, but in the past there have been instances where the number of streams have increased regardless of whether the news is good or bad. For example, in the wake of the documentary series ‘Surviving R. Kelly’, the R&B singer’s songs generated more than 4 million streams in the U.S. accounting for a 116% increase in the rise of streams.
But ‘Leaving Neverland’ could have a different impact. Due to the explosive nature of the documentary, major radio networks may pull Jackson’s songs from the air until public sentiment has calmed down. Radio stations in Canada and New Zealand have already decided not to play the singer’s songs unless it’s part of a news story.
Even though some may argue that nobody listens to the radio in the era of online music, one still can’t take away the charm of good old radio days. Radio still remains a big money-maker for music companies. Deloitte recently announced that it expects the global radio revenue to reach $40 billion in 2019, a 1% increase over 2018.