Former Sony Music CEO Tommy Mottola — with whom Jackson famously feuded — told The Associated Press that the singer's unreleased material ranges from unused tracks recorded during studio sessions for some of Jackson's most beloved albums to the songs he recently recorded with Akon and Will.I.Am that were slated for a long-in-the-works comeback album.
"There are dozens and dozens of songs that did not end up on his albums," said Mottola, who ran Jackson's musical distributor, Sony Music, from 1998-2003. "People will be hearing a lot of that unreleased material for the first time ever. There's just some genius and brilliance in there."
Mottola predicted that the releases could trickle out for years to come and eclipse the mountain of repackaged releases that have come out since the death of another musical icon, Elvis.
Since Jackson's death last Thursday, there have been numerous reports that he left behind more than 100 tracks, and the public thirst for his music has already resulted in a stampede to stores and the downloading of 2.3 million tracks in the U.S.
Despite being labeled a "racist" by Jackson in 2002 in a very public spat, Mottola told the AP that he considers himself the "shepherd and gatekeeper" of Jackson's catalog, claiming to be more familiar with what the pop icon left behind than anyone. He said that for every album Jackson made, including such classics as his solo breakthrough, 1979's Off the Wall and 1982's landmark Thriller, the singer recorded several tracks that didn't make it onto the albums, as is common with most artists.
It's unknown who owns the rights to the unreleased recordings, and an unnamed label source told the AP that no new projects or compilations are in the works yet. A spokesperson for Sony could not be reached at press time to comment for this story.
It's also unclear if Jackson's will made provisions for the release of his music, though entertainment lawyer Steve Gordon, who worked at Sony in the 1990s, told the AP that Jackson owned some of his master recordings and others were owned in partnership with Sony. Sony retains exclusive distribution rights for anything Jackson produced while under contract to the company.
AEG Live, the company that was promoting Jackson's 50-date "This Is It" concert series at the O2 Arena in London, reportedly has more than 100 hours of footage of Jackson performance that could be used to create the singer's first-ever live album release. A spokesperson for AEG has not returned requests for comments on what the company plans to do with that footage.
For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit "Michael Jackson Remembered."
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