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Journal of the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association

Volume 19, Number 1 (2019)

Music, Death, and Profits: Variables Contributing to the Surge in Sales After an Artist’s Death

Stan Renard
University of Texas at San Antonio

Richard T. Gretz
niversity of Texas at San Antonio


The passing of notable artists such as Prince, David Bowie, and Tom Petty has generated a surge in music sales associated with them. However, the impact of the death of these artists on sales that follows their deaths is not well understood. We aim to understand what happens to long-term effects on post-death sales and whether there is a return to pre-death levels. We use standard fixed effects panel estimations to assess the impact of an artist’s death on the sales of the artist’s albums and the rate at which album consumption decreases thereafter. We leverage a dataset of daily album sales for 81 artists, associated with 109 bands, who died between January 31, 2015 and December 1, 2017. Our findings show that the rate of sales does not return to pre-death levels but instead is in most instances persistently higher even several years after the death shock occurs.

Keywords: music consumption, artist death, death shock, after-death music sales, posthumous music sales, portfolio management

Renard, Stan, and Richard T. GretzMusic, Death, and Profits: Variables Contributing to the Surge in Sales After an Artist’s Death." Journal of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association 19, no. 1 (2019): 137-162.  https://doi.org/10.25101/19.6

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