CD, DVD and record sales of the King of Pop have surged locally since his unexpected death Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles. Few items and fresh demand have some sellers scrambling for Jackson merchandise.
"Nothing like death to further your career," said Jay Deese, store manager for Cosmic Debris.
While Cosmic Debris deals more in metal and classic rock, customers searched for Jackson's music there Friday afternoon. Some were even wanting to sell the store their old Jackson albums, Deese said.
"I don't think there's going to be a big rush here in Alabama" for Jackson items, he said, and Cosmic Debris isn't anticipating a boom in requests for Jackson's music. Cosmic Debris' first walk-in customer looking for Jackson music came Friday afternoon, and had to put in an order for an album.
Bruce Collier, thumbing through records by the Eurythmics and Chicago, said the Michael Jackson hype probably wouldn't die down for a few months.
"They won't let him die," he said, citing Elvis Presley's postmortem popularity and immortality.
Cosmic Debris had one cassette tape by Jackson as of Friday afternoon.
At the Sound Shop in Quintard Mall, employee Stephanie Gray said the store started receiving phone calls around the moment Jackson was declared dead Thursday, and a number of shoppers came in about an hour later.
Of the 20 Michael Jackson CDs and DVDs in stock, just one concert DVD remained Friday afternoon. Store manager Jason Hubbert said orders for Jackson merchandise have been placed, including T-shirts and album cover posters. CDs could arrive as early as Wednesday, Hubbert said.
CD Cellar in Anniston will also have new Jackson items next week, owner Larry May said.
"I haven't seen anything like this since (Frank) Sinatra died," May said.
Customers started coming into CD Cellar before Jackson's death was officially announced Thursday, buying Thriller and greatest hits albums, May said. One person alone bought eight different titles.
By 1 p.m. on Friday, May said, CD Cellar was wiped out of Jackson items, save for an Ultimate Collection boxed set.
Buddy's CD City on South Quintard also is restocking Jackson items.
"I've sold out of all the popular stuff," said owner Buddy Beville. "I had a couple of copies of the 20th anniversary album of Thriller — those went out the door today."
Beville said the phone "just flew off the hook" when Jackson died, and sales of Jackson's music came Friday morning, as Jackson CDs and DVDs played in the background.
CD City now has about three Jackson items left in stock.
"It's been a boost to my industry, I'll tell you that," Beville said. "If this is anything like Elvis, it'll be hard to restock."
The demand has found an outlet on the Internet, too. Amazon.com reported selling out of Jackson's CDs, and his music accounted for the most downloads at Apple's iTunes store.
Amazon's sales of Jackson's albums and MP3s were 700 times higher on Thursday after news of Jackson's death, and they were running at an even higher rate Friday, according to Bill Carr, the company's vice president of music and video.
"It's really hard to express what someone dying really means and how it absolutely brands that individual into the culture," said Del Bryant, CEO of Broadcast Music Inc., which collects royalties for the use of "Beat It," "Billy Jean" and other songs composed by Jackson. "If you look at everyone from Patsy Cline to the Big Bopper to Buddy Holly ... the effect on the catalog is tremendous."
Bryant said he expects revenue from public performances of Jackson's songs to triple this year because of his death.
Jackson's music has also been in more demand on the airwaves, receiving increased play on stations such as WVOK 97.9, said Chris Stanton, one of the station's afternoon disc jockeys.
"It was completely out of left field," Stanton said. "It's really tragic. His music has been popular for so many years."
Stanton said when he made the announcement of Jackson's death on the air Thursday afternoon, requests poured in for Jackson's songs.
"After 7 o'clock, we played a lot of his music," Stanton said, adding the songs would continue to be interspersed throughout the coming days. "People just (want) to remember him and his music."
• Buddy's CD City: (256) 237-2375
• CD Cellar: (256) 820-0650
• Cosmic Debris: (256) 820-0650
• Sound Shop: (256) 835-5009