Opinion: Wanted, Dead or Alive – Who makes the most profit?

The late Amy Winehouse, who died in July this year, aged 27, is following a long line of musicians to have their material released to the public after their death. Plans have already been made for an album to be released on December 5 titled Lioness: Hidden Treasures and feature 12 tracks that are yet to be heard by the public, giving an opportunity to catch a rare glimpse of the British singer.

Although many artists have left this world too soon, their legacy has made an impact in many ways, from posthumous recognition in rising popularity and chart success to tidy profits made from album sales.

According to Forbes, it was discovered that Michael Jackson has eclipsed Elvis Presley to become the highest paid dead celebrity of 2011 for a second year running, estimated to be at a staggering $170 million. Interestingly enough, the King of Pop was also the best-selling artist of 2009 since his death that year.

The top earning dead celebrity list also includes second-placed hip swinging Elvis Presley ($55 million), Beatles visionary John Lennon ($12 million) coming in at fifth, legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix ($7 million) in ninth place and “the quiet Beatle”, George Harrison ($7 million) also tied.

The main causes of sustained cash flow for those who have departed are due to licensing, sales from posthumous albums and previous discography, the release of limited edition boxed sets and DVD’s and memorabilia.

In actual fact, it seems as though the only way for a living artist or band to make a serious amount of dosh is by extensive and expansive touring. The only act that gave Michael Jackson a run for his money is U2, who beat out the “Thriller” superstar this year as they toured internationally for a lucrative amount of over $700 million, as part of their 360° Tour from 2009-2011.

Other established artists like Madonna and Bruce Springsteen and bands such as AC/DC, Bon Jovi and The Rolling Stones have all made a profit from touring, ranging from $125 million to over $500 million.

The only newcomer to reach the same stature of gross profit is Lady Gaga, who pocketed over $200 million for her Monster Ball Tour from 2009-2011. However, it wasn’t all positive. She has been notoriously known for planning elaborate props, and spending millions on costumes, all of which came at a high price. This has caused the “Born This Way” singer to file for bankruptcy after being $3 million in debt.

They say you have to “spend money to make money” but in this case… there should be an exception to the rule.