Michael Jackson Airplay & Album Sales Skyrocket
June 30, 2009

Michael Jackson
After radio stations nationwide paid tribute to Michael Jackson over the weekend, Nielsen BDS released airplay data showing that 143 of Jackson's recordings totaled 67,383 plays for the week ending June 28, which is up 1,735 percent from last week's sum of 3,671 plays before his death. Twenty-two of Jackson's hits racked up more than 1,000 spins this past week, led by "Billie Jean" with 4,500 plays. That was followed by "Thriller" at #2 with 3,570, "Rock With You" at #3 with 3,546, "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" at #4 with 3,135 and "P.Y.T." at #5 with 2,986 plays.

Meanwhile, Jackson's music went flying off store shelves faster than they could keep it in stock. Nielsen SoundScan's sales numbers won't be released until Wednesday morning, but estimates say that three of Jackson's albums -- Number Ones, The Essential Michael Jackson and Thriller -- each sold around 100,000 copies last week, according to Billboard.com. He may even lock up anywhere between six and nine slots in the Top 10 on the weekly sales chart.
The bulk of Jackson's album sales came from digital retailers, as many brick and mortar stores quickly ran out of stock. Sources say his Essential Michael Jackson, Number Ones and Thriller each sold more than 30,000 digital units, with Essential moving more than 70,000 downloads alone, notes Billboard.

Jackson's body will reportedly be taken to his Neverland Ranch in California for a public viewing on Friday, reports CNN. A private memorial service is scheduled for Sunday at Neverland, but the question of where he will be buried is still unanswered. Michael's mother, Katherine Jackson, currently has temporary guardianship of his three children, as well as control of her son's "tangible personal property." The biological mother of Jackson's two oldest children, Debbie Rowe, will be invited to a hearing next Monday in which the judge will consider who should have custody of the kids, says CNN. The Jackson family also said it has not found Michael's will, which would leave the division of his estate to the court.

Meanwhile, concert promoter AEG Live has figured out how to handle the refunds for Jackson's 50 sold-out concerts at London's O2 Arena. The AEG website says that full refunds will be available to fans who purchased tickets through authorized agents, and the refunds will include all service charges. Buyers can go to MichaelJacksonLive.com starting Wednesday, July 1 for details on how to get the refund. Buyers also will have the option to be sent the actual tickets they would have received to attend the shows in lieu of the full refunds.

"The world lost a kind soul who just happened to be the greatest entertainer the world has ever known," said AEG Live President & CEO Randy Phillips. "Since he loved his fans in life, it is incumbent upon us to treat them with the same reverence and respect after his death."

Photos from the rehearsals for those concerts also have emerged, which were taken by photographer Kevin Mazur on behalf of AEG Live. The images were shot on June 23 at the Los Angeles Staples Center during a practice session for the This Is It! concerts. The rehearsal was supposed to be one of the final run-throughs before Jackson and the entire production shipped off to London for the show's July 13 premiere. The pictures show a thin but happy-looking Michael smiling and practicing choreography with his back-up dancers.

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Jon Zellner
EVP/Programming Operations

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