It is tempting to think that what happens to a musician's legacy after he or she passes away is a matter of luck.
Some musicians slowly fade from memory. Their albums stop selling. Books about them are not written. Movies are not made about their lives. While other musicians' estates make vast fortunes.
If it is not attributed to luck, then perhaps it is attributed to some vague notion of artistic greatness. The truth, however, might be a bit more practical and not coincidental. In fact, there might not be any mystery at all.
No, the postmortem success of deceased musicians may come down to what contributed to their success during life – good management.
The Guardian recently published an article about Jeffrey Jampol, "'This is the pop culture legacy business': JAM Inc manages artists after death."
While not a household name himself, Jampol manages the business of many musicians who are household names, deceased musicians. For example, Jampol manages the legacy of Otis Redding, Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin as well as many more.
As the article notes, Jampol employs a careful strategy designed to enhance the legacy of the musicians he represents. It is his management strategy that keeps these musicians' legacies alive.
This highlights an important concept for all estates, not just the estates of famous musicians. Estate management is an important issue for anyone who wants to leave a legacy.
It is important to have the right people in charge of the estate to make sure that the legacy is handled appropriately.
Reference: Guardian (May 6, 2016) "'This is the pop culture legacy business': JAM Inc manages artists after death."