In the years before Michael Jackson passed away, you didn’t often hear his music on the radio. But as soon as he died, we wanted to hear his music again. His songs were everywhere.
The same thing will happen this week with Whitney Houston.
You see, when something is rare we naturally perceive it’s value to be higher.
John Lennon’s album Double Fantasy came out just three weeks before he was shot in December 1980. When critics first reviewed the album, most were unimpressed and some were downright scathing. Prior to Lennon’s death, the album was at #46 in the UK and #11 in the USA. Then, wimmediately after his murder, the album shot to #1 and went on to win Album of the Year at the 1981 Grammy Awards. Rolling Stone would later name the album the 29th best album of the 1980s.
What happened? Simple. We lost John Lennon and came to the stark realization that his music would no longer be with us. Knowing that, we placed new and increased value on his music. Instead of a mediocre album, we saw Double Fantasy as musical genius… in part because of the circumstances, not the music.
The death of Whitney Houston is no doubt a sad tragedy.
At one time, she was an amazing singer with a magical voice. She made history with her success. But as you watch the tributes to Whitney pour in this week, remember that over the past decade her music had been invisible on radio stations and her name had only been in the headlines for negative reasons. A few days ago, the world was not clamoring to hear “I Will Always Love You” one more time. Nobody was downloading “The Greatest Love of All” from iTunes.
That all changed with her passing.
The relationship to business is clear: when the supply of something is infinite, value is naturally lowered. When supply runs short of demand, perceived value goes up.
RIP Whitney Houston, 1963-2012.