How Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Tupac Shakur, Johnny Cash continue to be music’s lucrative legacies

From Variety:

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.

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.

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