Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Elvis Presley

Sorry – no April Fools joke for you. I thought about putting Karl Marx out here or something, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Instead, today we’ll celebrate the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. Elvis was more than just a successful recording star – though he was staggeringly successful at that – with 17 #1 hit singles, and over 500 million records sold. He was also a prolific movie star, starring in 31 critically panned, but mostly popular motion pictures. He remains a cultural icon today, more than 30 years after his death.

As wide-reaching and lucrative as these direct impacts were, Elvis’ contribution goes well beyond that. His combination of talent, charisma and musical innovation helped launch Rock and Roll as a dominant force in the music industry. The music industry today is almost immeasurable, as it extends well beyond simple music sales (though rock music sales were estimates at $32 billion last year). Concerts, video, video games (Guitar Hero, anyone?), MTV, and so many other avenues of celebrity generate a staggering amount of wealth for the musicians, manager, producers and industry insiders.

Elvis was an innovator, an entrepreneur and a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. His influence generated a tremendous amount of wealth for himself during his life and for the thousands of individuals who have benefitted from his influence in the 50+ years that have passed since he first got paid to record a song.

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