Death And Sales

You probably thought the only sure things in life were death and taxes, didn’t you. Well, we can throw one more thing into the pot roast of life’s guaranties.

Death and sales. I don’t remember the last time it wasn’t a sure thing.

Chuck Berry died last weekend. A rock and roll pioneer without question; he was one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and influenced generations of artists.  But Chuck’s last hit record was back in the early 70’s and he had been averaging 39 album sales prior to his death.

But then he died and his record sales increased 11,684 percent. Really.

Now this is not unusual. The same thing has happened following the death of other musicians and I’m having a difficult time understanding the mentality. Then again, the human mind is difficult to figure out on a good day.
But really, what compels people to buy an artists music after they die when they had no interest in doing so before they died? The music has been out there for decades, readily available. Why are they enough of a fan now to buy their music, but not before? Chuck’s songs have been around since the fifties. They’ve been all over the radio, movies, television, etc, forever. If people liked these songs before, why did they wait until he died to download them? It’s the same song. Sung by the same artist. But they like it better today? Are they afraid it’s going to somehow disappear or that Apple will go out of business? Do people sit around and wait for the evening news to decide what they should download that night based on the obituary reports? Does the music somehow sound better after someone dies? It all sounds a little macabre to me.

In some ways, this same phenomena happens in food stores the day before a snowstorm. People rush out to stock up on essentials because the roads may be snow-covered for maybe a day. Maybe. I always feel like they’re expecting Armageddon to arrive and bread will be have to be bartered with a laptop.

I wonder if all my blog posts will suddenly be in monetary demand when I’m no longer around. Maybe I should fake my demise, stay away for a couple of years and reap the financial rewards after I decide to return from my self-imposed disappearance. Sort of like an Eddie and the Cruisers thing.

Okay, I think might be getting a little carried away.

 

45 thoughts on “Death And Sales

  1. colinandray

    It is strange aspect of human behavior, and I can only suggest that (in your example), that there are 3 options (without thinking about it too much!):
    1. Loved Chuck Berry but did not have all his recordings and wanted a complete collection.
    2. Heard of Chuck Berry and thought that they should have some of his recordings.
    3. Never knew much about him but have more money than sense and decided that his death was a good reason to buy some of his work.

    Thinking about it though, so many icons from history became famous after their death didn’t they… so we really are a peculiar species! :)?

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  2. vanbytheriver

    You might just have something here. I always thought some of the interest was stirred up in folks who never knew these artists until their works were praised post mortem.
    As for the pre-snow food frenzy, I have no idea what that is about. I’ve never been stranded for more than 2 days, even in the worst blizzards. Maybe…just nervous energy, followed by a whole lot of French toast.

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    1. George Post author

      Lol…a WHOLE lot of French toast. Not such a bad thing.
      As for the musicians and their work, I’m at a loss. I almost want to conduct interviews and ask the simple question. Why?

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  3. Ilona Elliott

    Reminds me of a song on Bonnie Raitt’s Slip Stream album: “We all love a tragedy, and it loves us too, it’s a marriage made in Hollywood between greed and you. All you need to be a star is to die in open view…”. It’s kind of like buying a commemorative coin of the 9-11 disaster. Rather tasteless I think. May Chuck rest in peace and his music live forever.

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  4. Ann Coleman

    That’s a very interesting point! Maybe it comes from our tendency to want things we know we can’t have? As long as an artist is still alive, then we believe that his or her music is readily available, and we only buy it if we actually enjoy it. But as soon as that artist dies, well then….we need to snap up all of their work ASAP! It’s true for musicians and other artists. And so sad that they are appreciated that way while they are still with us. At least Chuck Berry had his heyday, but even so…. Why wait until now to buy his music?
    Maybe we really should fake our own deaths and make our blogs wildly successful?

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  5. In My Cluttered Attic

    I think you’re onto something here, George. It’s just like Van Gogh. When he was alive nobody wanted what the poor man was selling. Then he starts pushing up those “Sunflowers” of his and suddenly he could afford all the paint and canvasses he ever wanted. It seems our work only becomes respected once it becomes a commodity. Maybe I should do fewer posts! That’s funny… all my critics have been saying the same thing. 😀

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      1. In My Cluttered Attic

        Another one of life’s little ironies I suppose, George. Like the times I missed out on investing in the Dot-Com bubble (But who could have ever thought bubbles with dots would become big business? I know I didn’t.); and that time when I failed to invest in Microsoft (however, everyone knows anything microscopic is way too tiny to ever become huge); and lastly when I ignored that skinny guy who wore black turtlenecks all the time, who claimed that Pixar would supplant Disney animation (Ha, CGI! That idea had failure written all over it!). Now this: Blogs that make $$$$. Just another missed opportunity for me to make a quick buck. I only hope my wife, kids, and grandchildren appreciate the sacrifice I’m making on their behalf by my dying so that they can all get rich from my blog of wonders. 😀

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Kate Crimmins

    Perhaps some people (especially younger ones) didn’t know who he was and were curious after all the accolades. I was never a huge Prince fan but after he died, I went back to revisit his work. Some I liked a lot, others not so much but I did notice what a fabulous guitar player he was. That was lost on me prior to all the news stories. We are expecting rain today. Do you think I’ll need French toast for that?

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    1. George Post author

      Lol…not for the rain, Kate. Well, maybe if it’s more than two inches. People get crazy…:) It’s a good point about people who never knew who he was suddenly finding out about him. I wish I knew the real reason(s) behind the whole thing. Then again, maybe I don’t want to know.

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      1. Kate Crimmins

        I worked with a guy a long time ago who was a professional baseball player for the Cubs. He had his own card. When I left the job, he gave me two of his cards. I asked if they would be valuable when he was dead and we all had a good laugh about it. Unfortunately he played when professional players did not make mega bucks.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Osyth

    I notice another aspect which seems to have sprouted wings in the Social Media era. That is, that when someone famous dies, all of a sudden there are outpourings and the most tenuous connections are heralded by ordinary folks …. I guess once they have written their eulogy and included themselves peripherally in the life of this person they then feel compelled to prove their rather flimsy love by going out and buying the music, or the movie or, heaven forbid because I’m not sure writers count as celebrities any more, the book. It is a highly mawkish attitude and one of the worst things about this hyper-fast news gathering world we live in.

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  8. sportsattitudes

    George, it always has fascinated me how dead people do so darn well in this economy. Way better than most of the living. Fortunately the dead don’t need currency. At least that’s what I was led to believe…that quote about we “can’t take it with us.” God help us if we not only have to save for retirement but the afterlife. I wonder if Heaven has 401K’s?

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  9. candidkay

    Oh, I just joked at a wake with a friend (black humor) that perhaps we’d be famous writers when dead. That suddenly, we would have that certain je ne sais quoi. We must be channeling similar thoughts, George:).

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  10. Kim Gorman

    Interesting thoughts here, George. I’m with you on the grocery shopping before a snowstorm. I mean, we live in an age of snowplows and such – we’re hardly going to die of starvation. Regarding music artists, I think for me, when I heard that Chuck Barry died, though I didn’t go out and purchase his music, it made me remember him. I didn’t think of him on a regular basic, and I don’t think of any music artists regularly. I guess with the radio I take them for granted. Music is one of those things that I always mean to become more involved with, like buy an IPod just to download music, or go to more concerts, or simply just play it at home more, but I never seem to find the time.

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    1. George Post author

      Time is a tough commodity..:) maybe that’s why so many songs are downloaded when people pass away. Maybe people never found the time to listen and recognize their music and when someone dies, they finally do what they always should have done. That’s pretty much a mirror image of life, isn’t it..:)

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