GET RICH OR TRY DYING: MUSIC'S MEGA LEGACIES - BBC MUSIC DOCUMENTARY FILM DOCUMENTARY (2019)

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Both Bob Dylan and Nick Cave have testified in song that death is not the end. But, not all stories from the musical afterlife are created equal. Death may have its obvious downside. However, in the world of pop, shuffling off your mortal coil could be a unique business opportunity.

In this documentary, Scissor Sisters star Ana Matronic goes on a journey into the afterlife of pop. Think of her as music’s pearly gatekeeper of making it big in the ever after. But here’s the rub: this isn’t about the music; no, this is about the many other ways dead pop stars earn a living when they’re gone. So join her as she books in with the agents, publicists, producers and families to discover the dos and don’ts of keeping the dream alive.

Using a combination of interview, archive and investigation, Get Rich or Try Dying peels back the complicated mechanics of the pop music industry, showing how it really works and who ultimately profits from it. Once the mansions, yachts, luxury cars, private jets and entourages are dispensed with, death ushers in a new cast of characters, not all of whom were party to creating the wealth in the first place, but all of them are interested in profiting from it.

The documentary reveals how Elvis was the architect of the entire legacy industry and how his lawyers, working on behalf of his family, changed American law to permit the surviving family members to benefit from his rights of publicity. It shows Prince’s story to be a cautionary tale for those without a will, and ponders how Bob Marley has retained his dignity despite attaching his name to everything from bath salts to electric goods and Californian marijuana. Linda Ramone professes her love of ‘merch’ and explains how her dead husband’s influential but niche NY punk act, The Ramones, continues to stand for something way beyond their music. Finally, Frank Zappa’s son delves into the morality of hologram tours, as illustrated by his father’s, before the immaculate planning of David Bowie sets out how to go about it the right way.

Last year, the top five estates of the most cherished ‘deceased’ popstars earned an incredible US$0.5bn - this documentary shows you how they did it. (59 minutes)


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