Artists often have record sales after they die

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

Local artists often struggle to make their biggest impact until they die, say music insiders following the unfortunate death of reggae star Lucky Dube.

"We've received over 3000 e-mails and 220 phone calls daily with messages of condolence and constant orders for his products," said Gallo chief executive officer and long-time friend of Lucky Dube, Ivor Haarburger.

"His music has definitely been receiving more media coverage," said Haarburger, "but his popularity wasn't just based in South Africa. He had a fan base across Europe and Africa. I just got off the phone with an Australian radio station about him."

Depending on the interest an artist manages to develop, artists can generate sales volume increases of between 5percent and 100percent once they die.

"Shortly after Sipho Gumede's death, his record sales skyrocketed," said Sheer Sound label manager Richard Woodin.

"At one point his sales were over 100percent above his normal average volumes. Because of his catalogue he is one of the rare artists who is still selling consistently today," he said.

Shortly after TK Mhinga's death her record sales "went crazy" said Woodin. "There was already a 'Best of' album shortly after she died, but the public soon forgot about her," he said.

Melt2000 head Robert Trunz said the more controversial the death of an artist, the higher the boost in sales. "Moses' (Molelekwa) music sales were always consistent before and after his death," he said.

"He had a loyal following. Shortly after his death the sales of his music went up by about 10percent, but it quickly came down to normal," said Trunz.

"Lucky Dube is a slightly different type of artist with a wider audience. There should be a huge boost for his sales," said Woodin.

Lucky Dube has been one of South Africa's biggest selling artists with 22 albums to his name including Victims, which sold more than 1million copies in 1993.

Haarburger said Dube had not recorded any upcoming material since his 2006 release Respect, but said that a Best of Lucky Dube would be released.