Michael Jackson’s Music Streams Increased After HBO’s 'Leaving Neverland' Documentary - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

The music continues to play! According to Billboard, after the airing of the HBO documentary, Leaving Neverland, Michael Jackson’s streaming numbers have gone up.

Following the broadcast of Leaving Neverland, radio airplay of Jackson’s songs decreased 32% in the weeks after the airing as the streaming of his songs on various services increased. Streams of Jackson’s songs increased by 22% in the same 31-week period following the documentary’s release.

According to a Billboard analysis of Nielsen Music data, in the four weeks before Leaving Neverland, his songs averaged 14,000 spins per week at radio, while in the 31 weeks afterward, through Oct. 3, stations played his music an average of 11,000 times. The radio audience for Jackson’s music fell 32.1% during this period. Yet people kept listening to Jackson’s music. During the same 31-week period, Billboard found that streaming consumption of Jackson’s catalog never saw a decline — on-demand streams of Jackson’s catalog increased by 22.1%, outpacing the industry’s 21.8% growth.

The estate of the late Michael Jackson has reportedly earned more than $1.7 billion since the top of the year. Jackson’s estate is currently involved in a legal battle with HBO over the Leaving Neverland documentary. His estate claims that HBO broke a 1992 arbitration agreement stating that the network cannot make disparaging remarks about the singer or harm his reputation. Billboard reports that the 1992 agreement states that “HBO shall not make any disparaging remarks concerning [Michael Jackson] … or do any act that may harm or disparage or cause to lower in esteem the reputation of [Jackson.]” In addition, the agreement contained a clause stating that all disputes regarding the agreement would be handled in arbitration. The network, however, argues that the 27-year-old agreement, which was signed when HBO aired Jackson’s Dangerous World Tour, no longer applies.

In other Michael Jackson news, according to Variety, The Michael Jackson musical, “MJ”, is set to open on Broadway in summer 2020. The musical is written by Pulitzer Prize-winning book-writer Lynn Nottage. Tony Award-winner Christopher Wheeldon will direct and choreograph the stage play. The musical is in development at studios in New York City. Tickets are scheduled to go on sale starting Jan. 15, and the show is set to run on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre.