Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Tupac Shakur, Johnny Cash:
Music’s Lucrative Legacies
04.06.13 | 03:00PM PT
Extending the commercial afterlife of music icons requires a careful balancing act
Tupac Shakur has been dead since 1996, but his star is only on the rise. Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Johnny Cash remain in the public eye with projects that range from biopics to hip-hop mashups to CD retrospectives to retail lines. It’s all part of the careful balancing act of extending the commercial afterlife of music icons without running afoul of the most important credo: Never mess with the brand.
There’s an art, and a bit of science, to managing the estates of music icons whose works resonate long after they leave the corporeal world. The enigmatic rap star Tupac Shakur has logged six top 10 albums since he was killed in 1996. His spectral image loomed large over the hipsters at the Coachella music festival last year with a much-buzzed-about hologram that was crafted for the performance by Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, his former label mates on the infamous Death Row Records. But that’s just the tip of the Tupac-related licensing and media blitz likely to be unleashed in the coming years.
Afeni shakur, the rapper’s mother, earlier this year inked a deal with JAM, the L.A.-based firm headed by musicbiz vet Jeff Jampol that manages the posthumous careers of such artists at Janis Joplin, Otis Redding and Rick James. He’s also a consultant to Michael Jackson’s estate.
The oversight of those estates is far more involved than licensing the occasional track to a movie or TV program in today’s long-tail, multiplatform media landscape. The challenge is to keep the icon’s work and likeness in the public eye without tarnishing the artistic legacy, which is where all value lies. The first rule of dead-celeb management: Don’t put out junk. In the case of musicians, that means being selective on posthumous releases, whether it’s items from the vault (not every note committed to tape demands to be heard by the public) or licensing tunes for use in other media. For seminal music forces, the question of how to best manage digital sales licensing options around the world is a full-time job for label execs.
“Afeni Shakur said something very interesting to me,” Jampol says. “She talked about how Tupac had a blueprint for the message he wanted to carry. That word ‘blueprint’ sparked a light bulb in my head. I realized if you look at what these artists said, what they did, and the art they created, they will reveal to you the blueprint. They will tell you where to go.”
Afeni Shakur has been fiercely protective of her son’s image since he was gunned down in drive-by shooting in Las Vegas at the age of 25. A superstar from the start of his career, Tupac has exerted outsized influence on rap and hip-hop ever since. Dr. Dre persuaded Afeni to allow the Tupac hologram for Coachella, and the response clearly underscored the depth of interest that remains in the rapper’s dramatic tale. He also got a prime platform in Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” which featured an anthemic theme song that was a mash-up of James Brown’s “The Payback” and Shakur’s “Untouchable.”
Execs at Interscope Records, Shakur’s last label, suggested that Afeni retain Jampol’s firm to ensure the estate would be carefully tended to with a long-term strategy in the same way Jimi Hendrix’s family has managed his vault after waging a long legal battle to control those rights.
Among the first Tupac projects in the works is a prospective Broadway tuner featuring new music derived from his lyrics and poetry.
“My intention today is the same as it has been since 1996. I feel it is our responsibility to make sure that Tupac’s full body of work is made available to his fans,” Afeni Shakur tells “Variety.” “As far as future strategies, I can say that I have great faith in the direction we will go with our new management in place.”
Meaningful money can be accrued if an artist’s assets and image are managed thoughtfully. The top 10 of Forbes’ list of top-earning dead celebrities in 2012 included four music greats: Michael Jackson ($145 million), Elvis Presley ($55 million), Bob Marley ($17 million) and John Lennon ($12 million). The heirs and reps of other deceased music icons are striving to move their charges into that rarefied territory.
Joplin’s Southern Comfort-soaked life story has been chased by Hollywood for years. More recently, her canon has inspired everything from “One Night With Janis Joplin,” a new musical running at the Pasadena Playhouse (and probably destined to travel), and Made for Pearl, a website that sells haute couture versions of the funky clothing and jewelry that exemplified the singer’s hippie-chic style.
Presley’s estate is such a reliable cash machine that is a big part of the foundation of Core Media Group (formerly CKX Inc., which acquired Elvis Presley Enterprises in 2005). Miles Davis and Johnny Cash are also among the most successful examples of hugely influential figures whose estates have carefully extended their commercial afterlife.
“It’s no coincidence that (these) artists … are all enjoying a stature, a visibility, a presence that is far greater than that of many of their contemporaries, and that is because they have very active, very engaged, very supportive and collaborative estates or representation,” says Adam Block, president of Sony Music’s catalog arm Legacy Recordings, which owns the seminal Davis and Cash catalogues. “When that exists, it brings more resources into the conversation. It makes for a much more effective effort, for both parties.”
Jampol got his start in the artistic reanimation business in 2003, when he joined the late Danny Sugerman in managing the career of the Doors, a role he maintains today. The band’s lead singer Jim Morrison died in 1970 at age 27 (which only added another layer to his legend) and the surviving members hadn’t recorded any new music since 1978. By creating a stream of new product that kept the act vital and in the public eye, the Doors team formed the template for JAM’s business plan.
“If you look at what they said, what they did, the art they created, then you can try to carry that message forward,” Jampol says. “You have to stay true to who they were. We have to hew absolutely to authenticity.”
JAM’s work on behalf of its acts takes a variety of forms, from merchandising to finding new ways to market old music. Last month, Concord Music Group’s Stax imprint released “Lonely and Blue,” a new Redding compilation that focuses on the soul singer’s ballad work.
This year should see the release of a new Doors project: a limited-edition box including CD and reel-to-reel tape renderings of a hitherto unheard 1966 live performance by the band at the London Fog on the Sunset Strip.
In partnership with Tom Whalley, who signed Shakur to Interscope, JAM has taken the reins of the Tupac archive, following his spectacular Coachella comeback with a holographic doppelganger. Sony’s Block says admiringly, “That was a great example of a brilliant creative exercise.”
Like Tupac, Hendrix’s work during his short life (he died in 1970 at age 27) was so influential that it has enjoyed remarkable longevity, thanks in large measure to the work of his family’s company, Experience Hendrix, which is distributed by Sony.
Just last month, a new Hendrix collection, “People, Hell & Angels,” entered the U.S. album chart at No. 2. It was the guitar god’s highest chart placement since “Electric Ladyland” reached No. 1 in 1968. (Another collection, “Valleys of Neptune,” hit No. 4 in 2010.)
Experience Hendrix, founded in 1994, is headed by Hendrix’s sister Janie. The company has kept the performer’s profile high nearly 43 years after his death with a stream of licensed products, including guitars and pedals, T-shirts, calendars, highend art, museum exhibitions and even an annual Experience Hendrix tour, featuring Band of Gypsys member Billy Cox and a host of name guitarists. Literally dozens of licensees employ the Hendrix brand.
“For us,” Janie Hendrix says, “it’s really about being handson and being on the inside and working on projects to make sure that they’re done in an authentically correct way. I think we’ve been able to continue that. … What we do for Jimi is definitely 24-7, and we’re constantly thinking of new ways to put him out there and have people hear his music.”
The music of jazz giant Davis, who died in 1991, has been subject to a host of repackagings and newly unearthed archival releases through Sony’s Legacy division. In January, the company issued the second volume of “The Bootleg Series,” a CD/DVD package of previously unreleased Davis performances.
But Davis’ nephew and onetime band mate Vince Wilburn Jr., who oversees the musician’s estate with Davis’ children Erin and Cheryl, hopes to keep the legend breathing with more projects like 2007’s “Evolution of the Groove,” a hip-hop-inflected remix project that included Carlos Santana among the particpants.
Says Wilburn: “I’m always thinking, ‘What would Miles do? What would my uncle do?’ He wouldn’t want to play “Human Nature” and “Time After Time” in 2013. He didn’t want to go back and listen to the quintet, his old material. Miles was progressive. Miles was a forward thinker.”
Rather, Wilburn says, the estate is looking to hook up with present-day acts that are relatable.
“We want to collaborate with the right guys and put out a collaboration with hip-hop artists,” he says. “We want to reach a vast audience, a younger demographic. All we want to do is make sure that it’s something the public has never heard, that it’s marketable, and that it reaches a wider demographic. That’s our mission.”
Johnny Cash also has never left the public eye since his 2003 death. “The Legend of Johnny Cash,” a 2005 Island Records compilation of his Columbia and American recordings, remains in the top 100 of the U.S. album chart and has sold nearly 2.9 million copies to date.
Like Davis, Cash has been the subject of a “Legacy Bootleg Series,” now in its fourth volume. The country legend’s son, John Carter Cash, who oversees the posthumous output, says that in addition to further unreleased studio material and live recordings, a stage play and a feature film based around Cash’s music are in the works. The younger Cash was an exec producer on 2005’s “Walk the Line,” which focused on his father’s early years.
Echoing Wilburn’s sentiments, Cash says: “What I always try to do, in all situations, is make the same decision that my father would have made. We want to keep the integrity in place. We don’t want to cheapen the image; we don’t want to exploit the brand.”
If there is common ground for those who work with the catalogs of long-dead artists, it is the acknowledgement that a marketing or licensing misstep can severely devalue an artist’s work, sometimes catastrophically.
“Around my company, we have a few mottos,” says Jampol. “One of them I call the Hippocratic Oath of Rock, which is ‘First, do no harm.’ I’ll say to my staff: ‘Listen, it’s 12:30 in the afternoon. By 5 o’clock today, you can completely ruin what it took Jim Morrison 45 years to do, so have a careful day.’ ”
Soundtrack Staples Keep Cash Flowing
Movie and TV soundtrack licensing is a bankable source of coin for the estates of music legends. The exposure also helps keep their tunes fresh in the public’s ear. Evergreen tracks like Tupac Shakur’s “California Love” have been used in practically all genres, including kidpics (“Marmaduke”), romantic comedies (“Valentine’s Day”) and action pics (“Battle: Los Angeles”).
ONE NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN BECOMES HIGHEST GROSSING PRODUCTION FOR THE PASADENA PLAYHOUSE
BREAKS PREVIOUS RECORD HELD BY STORMY WEATHER
THE HIT CONCERT EVENT PLAYS FOR TWO MORE WEEKS THROUGH APRIL 21, 2013
PASADENA, CA (April 8, 2013) – The Pasadena Playhouse (Sheldon Epps, Artistic Director and Elizabeth Doran, Executive Director) in association with Todd Gershwin and Daniel Chilewich of One Night Productions, LLC, the Estate of Janis Joplin and Jeff Jampol of JAM, Inc. announced that in less than four weeks into its engagement, ONE NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN has officially become the highest-grossing production in the history of The Pasadena Playhouse, breaking a previous record held by Stormy Weather which played for eight weeks in January – March, 2009. The production enters its final two weeks of performances, playing through April 21, 2013.
“Over the past few weeks this show has been filling our theatre with tremendous energy, theatricality, and sheer musical JOY,” said Sheldon Epps, Artistic Director of The Pasadena Playhouse. “That is a great accomplishment for all involved and I am tremendously grateful. To have the show additionally break box office records at this point in the run is a delicious cherry on top of an already satisfying sundae. I look forward to JANIS continuing to rock The Playhouse through the final weeks of the run.”
Critical praise for ONE NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN includes:
“ONE NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN WILL ROCK YOUR WORLD”
CRITIC’S CHOICE. “Neither venue nor attendees may ever be the same. In a cosmic collusion of persona and perception, this electrifying concert musical resurrects the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll with the sort of seismically sensational results normally encountered at stadiums and pop festivals. Eschewing the biographical narrative gyrations of say, Jersey Boys, the premise of One Night is basic, unvarnished and supremely effective…jaws drop…Given the objective, it’s a triumph for all concerned. They will rock your world.” – David C. Nichols, Los Angeles Times
“Mary Bridget Davies is volcanic as ‘The Pearl.’ Sabrina Elayne Carten is electrifying as her blues muse.” – Jonas Schwartz, TheaterMania
“GO!” – Bill Raden, LA Weekly
“…an absolutely delicious chance to relive a moment of musical magic…a couple of knockout performances.” – Frances Baum Nicholson, Pasadena Star-News
“Wow! …immensely talented singers…” – Robert Hofler, Variety
“Janis Rocks! …definitely a night to remember!” – Rosalind Read, LAArtsOnline.com
“It is simply one of the most amazing and emotional experiences offered on any Los Angeles stage so far this year. Critic’s Score: A” – Travis Michael Holder, Backstage
ONE NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN, created, written and directed by Randy Johnson and starring Mary Bridget Davies, who gives an acclaimed performance as Janis Joplin, is a full-on concert experience and musical journey into the inspirations of one of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest legends. With a voice like whiskey and a laugh like pure joy, Janis Joplin took the music scene by storm. Simultaneously rough and vulnerable, Joplin was dubbed the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, proving music wasn’t just a man’s world anymore. ONE NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN also shines a spotlight on the great African-American blues artists who influenced Janis’ musical style and career, including Bessie Smith, Etta James and Aretha Franklin. This new musical event includes a live onstage band and features Joplin hits and classic songs such as “Piece of My Heart,” “Mercedes Benz,” “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Ball and Chain” and “Summertime” – creating a compelling portrait of an artist through the words and music of one of America’s greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll icons.
ONE NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN will play two more weeks through April 21, 2013. The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101. The performance schedule is Tuesday through Friday at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday at 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Single show ticket prices for ONE NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN range from $69.00 – $107.00, with Premium Seating available for $105.00 – $145.00. Service and theatre restoration fees apply to all purchases. Tickets are available by calling The Pasadena Playhouse Box Office at 626-356-7529. On non-performance dates, the Box Office is open Tuesday – Sunday from 12:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. On performance dates, the Box Office is open Tuesday – Saturday from 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available 24 hours a day at www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org. Group Sales (tickets for 8 or more people) are available by calling 626-921-1161. For additional information on The Pasadena Playhouse, please visit www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org. For additional information on the production, please visit www.OneNightWithJanisJoplin.com, www.facebook.com/janisjoplin, www.twitter.com/janisjoplin or www.wemanagelegends.com.
Tupac Has New Management, But Don’t Expect A Hologram Tour
Tupac Has New Management, But Don’t Expect A Hologram Tour
Zack O’Malley Greenburg, Forbes Staff
3/01/2013 @ 1:00PM
Tupac Shakur is being resurrected—again. But not in the way you might think.
Last month Shakur’s mother, Afeni, reached an agreement to have Jeff Jampol’s Jampol Artist Management oversee her son’s estate. Record executive Tom Whalley, who signed the rapper to his first deal, will work on music projects; attorney Peter Paterno will handle legal matters.
Shakur made headlines last year when he appeared as a hologram–or, more specifically, as an old 2D illusion known as Pepper’s Ghost—alongside Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre at the Coachella music festival. So it may come as a surprise to some that Jampol shot down rumors of a hologram tour in a recent interview with FORBES.
“A [solo] hologram tour I find disingenuous, boring, and I think it perverts the very idea of a live show … live music is all about a moment,” he said. “There’s nonverbal two-way communication. It’s spontaneous and real, and it’s occurring right in front of you. That’s the magic.”
Still, Jampol says he’ll be exploring other new ways to bring Shakur to a new generation of audiences with the help of technological advances. He imagines something akin to the 21st Century version of the Pink Floyd laser shows that began in the 1970s–a live experience that doesn’t necessarily include actual performers.
Creating fresh sources of cash is particularly important for Shakur’s estate, which has already licensed out many of its key rights and has released most of the extensive cache of music that the rapper left behind. As a result, the rapper’s posthumous earnings last were about one-third the $9 million he generated in 2007. Jampol will try to reverse that trend.
“I think that you’ll see new streams of income from additional forms of licensing and things that just didn’t exist five years ago,” says attorney Donald David, who has worked with the estate for years.
The estate’s efforts may be aided by changing attitudes over Shakur and his legacy. Perhaps known best at the time of his death for his advocacy of “Thug Life” and all things gangster, recent years have seen greater emphasis on Shakur’s intellectual and activist side.
In 2000, his spoken-word album The Rose That Grew From Concrete featured luminaries from Mos Def to Nikki Giovanni reading his poetry. His life and work formed the basis of symposium at Harvard in 2003. Most recently, Atlanta hosted the first Tupac Amaru Shakur Collection Conference on Hip-Hop, Education and Expanding the Archival Imagination.
Look for that part of Shakur’s narrative to play an increasingly large role in future moves by his estate.
“We want the story … we want the raison d’etre,” said Jampol. “And we want to expose people to Tupac.”
UPDATE: Jeff Jampol responded to my story with a clarification of his stance on hologram tours. I think it adds an interesting dimension–no pun intended–to the article, and I’d like to share it with my readers:
“As we had discussed, my feeling is that creative uses of holograms as part of a bigger whole can be groundbreaking, creative and a very cool part of a much bigger entertainment experience. For instance, Dre and Snoop’s performance at Coachella, with the Tupac ‘hologram,’ was revolutionary, inspiring and just plain old…awesome. But a ‘solo hologram tour’ in which patrons sit in an uncomfortable chair watching a pre-programmed hologram ‘perform’? Yawn.”
JAMPOL ARTIST MANAGEMENT, INC. TO REPRESENT
ESTATE OF HIP-HOP ICON TUPAC SHAKUR
Pact With Estate to Bring Chart-Topping Rapper-Actor-Activist’s Work, Legacy and Life to New Audiences Via All Available Channels
LOS ANGELES (February 13, 2013) Jampol Artist Management, Inc. (JAM) is pleased to announce that it has completed an agreement to manage the Estate of hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur, overseeing Tupac’s music, film, name and likeness, apparel, licensing and other ventures in all media, worldwide.
Loma Vista Recordings Founder & Chairman Tom Whalley, who discovered and signed Tupac to his first record deal, will be working alongside JAM Inc. on all music projects. Given his long relationship with Tupac and Afeni Shakur – Tupac’s mother, the head of his estate and founder of The Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation – Tom is uniquely qualified to help preserve the artistic legacy and musical vision of Tupac.
“Tupac was a legend in life and will be an icon forever,” says JAM CEO Jeff Jampol, who also represents The Doors and the estates of Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Otis Redding, Rick James, Peter Tosh, Henry Mancini and other artists, and consults the Estate of Michael Jackson. “It’s our responsibility – and our privilege – to ensure that new generations of fans experience the power of Tupac’s music, his ideas and his storytelling.”
“I believe it is our responsibility to make sure that Tupac’s entire body of work is made available for his fans,” says Afeni Shakur. “My son left many incomplete pieces and even more unfinished ideas. Using the blueprints he gave us, I am committed to fulfilling this duty. Tom [Whalley] and I are very pleased to have Jeff Jampol as the manager of Tupac’s estate. I know that Jeff and his staff have a deep respect for my son’s work – and will find innovative ways to continue to keep his music, his message, and his legacy alive.”
From Tupac’s unapologetic debut on the world stage with 1991′s 2Pacalypse Now until his murder in 1996, he dominated the pop-cultural landscape, bringing a host of characters into his narratives, and defying the stereotypes and assumptions of adversaries and admirers alike.
His numerous #1 singles, including “Dear Mama” – one of only three hip-hop songs ever selected by The Library of Congress for induction into its National Recording Registry – “Keep Ya Head Up,” “I Get Around” and “Changes,” spiked at multiple radio formats; his albums flew off shelves; and his performances brought rap fans and rock kids together. And while dominating the music scene, he showed still more facets of his soulful creativity with a string of powerful film performances in such features as Juice, Poetic Justice, Above the Rim and Gridlock’d.
Tupac’s influence has only grown since his untimely departure. Multiple posthumous releases have achieved #1 status, and he has sold close to 100 million records worldwide; his 1998 Greatest Hits collection received a Diamond certification (signifying more than 10 million sold) in 2011.
His life, art and impact have been discussed by academics, taught in schools around the world, and were the basis for a 2003 Harvard University symposium. The Atlanta University Center at the Robert W. Woodruff Library recently held the first Tupac Amaru Shakur Collection Conference on Hip Hop, Education And Expanding the Archival Imagination. In 2012 Tupac even returned to the concert stage—in hologram form—to electrify audiences at the Coachella Music Festival.
Branding the Firebrand
Branding the Firebrand: How Peter Tosh’s Estate Is Revitalizing An Iconic Reggae Artist’s Legacy
By Patricia Meschino | December 07, 2012 12:58 PM EST
Peter Tosh’s groundbreaking achievements in taking reggae to the mainstream are remarkable: A founding member of legendary Jamaican super group The Wailers (alongside Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer in 1962), Tosh co-wrote the group’s timeless global anthem “Get Up Stand Up;” opened up for the Rolling Stones’ on their “Some Girls” tour; was the first reggae artist to play “Saturday Night Live;” had one of MTV’s earliest reggae videos; and won a Best Reggae Album Grammy. And yet, to most people, Tosh’s career accomplishments are nearly forgotten by all but roots reggae’s most ardent followers.
Through the diligence of his children and former manager Herbie Miller, however, Tosh’s contributions are beginning to be recognized. For example, he recently received one of Jamaica’s highest distinctions: The Order of Merit which was bestowed upon the deceased singer at an official government ceremony on Oct. 15 (Heroes Day, a national holiday) 25 years after he was murdered at his Kingston home on September 11, 1987, at age 42.
Full article: Billboard.com