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"This is about creatively connecting with his work, about finding new and compelling ways to capture the essence, the excitement and the magic that is Michael Jackson and sharing it with new generations of fans, and the fans who already
love him.”
—--John Branca

THE GREAT XSCAPE

How Epic and the Late Artist's Estate Brought New Life to Archival Michael Jackson Tracks
The King of Pop may be gone, but he’s headed back to the upper reaches of the album chart.

Today Epic releases Xscape, a collection of material from the Michael Jackson archives presented both in its original form and reworked by top contemporary producers.

The eight songs from 1983-99, selected by Epic chief L.A. Reid (who’s also credited as Album Producer/Curator) and team from a list of songs chosen by the MJ estate’s John Branca and John McClain, appear both in their original form and with updated production from Executive Producer Timbaland, McClain, Rodney Jerkins, Stargate and others.

"Everything the estate does is based on the philosophy of keeping Michael’s legacy thriving," Branca insists. "It’s not creating things that replace what he left behind, or even trying to imagine a blueprint and finishing it for him. Without Michael here, that’s impossible. This is about creatively connecting with his work, about finding new and compelling ways to capture the essence, the excitement and the magic that is Michael Jackson and sharing it with new generations of fans, and the fans who already love him."

"L.A.Reid is the one that pulled this off," adds the attorney. "He had a vision from the beginning, and he put together an incredible team of talented producers to execute his vision. His choice of Timbaland to be the lead producer was inspired. Michael always wanted to stay on the cutting edge, so L.A.’s idea to contemporize the tracks with Timbaland and other hot producers seemed philosophically in tune with our overall goals." 

"It’s amazing working with the King of Pop," declares Epic EVP Marketing/Artist Development Scott Seviour. "John Branca, John McClain and everyone at the estate have been amazing partners, and very supportive of what we’ve done. L.A. Reid made an incredible album that’s really a celebration of Michael. It’s done with such integrity and respect. Michael’s mantra was always that it had to be great. L.A. led the campaign and was committed to greatness. We strove for that in every aspect."

"We expect great things for this album," says Branca, whose efforts on behalf of the Jackson brand are themselves the stuff of legend. "It’s already huge outside the U.S., where Michael historically experienced 70% of his sales."

Indeed, Xscape, currently #2 on the U.S. iTunes chart, has thus far hit #1 on the download store in 49 territories, including France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Greece, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The album has achieved 82 Top 5 iTunes positions, including #2s in the U.K., Germany, Italy, Finland, Portugal, Switzerland, South Africa, India and Israel.

In addition to the songs, the iTunes Deluxe version boasts more than 25 minutes of documentary footage.

Lead single "Love Never Felt So Good," co-written by Jackson and Paul Anka, also appears in a new version featuring guest vocalist Justin Timberlake. The track—which debuted on the 5/1 iHeartRadio Music Awards with an Usher-led dance routine—was serviced to Top 40, Rhythm and other radio formats earlier this month; a video featuring Timberlake mixed in with footage of the late megastar is due to premiere. A remix by renowned house DJ Fedde Le Grand is due next week.

"Love" scored more than 33 adds at Pop radio, led by Radio Disney, WKTU and KMVQ, as well as 40 adds each at Urban and Urban AC, with major markets leading. Stories are brewing at Rhythm, Hot AC and AC. iHeartRadio played the song once an hour and SiriusXM launched an MJ "pop-up station" on 5/12.All six formats offered "win it before you can buy it" opportunities.


The Xscape rollout is marked by the first-ever One Sony music campaign, with all company platforms promoting the album.

Among the TV components: a 5/4 CBS Sunday Morning segment; a weeklong Ellen promotion that saw the TV host dancing to a new Xscape track every day; an appearance by Reid on Entertainment Tonight; a Jeep commercial spotlighting the single (now playing in our Rumor Mill) that debuted during the NBA playoffs last week and will appear on numerous high-profile broadcasts; a Dancing With the Stars routine to "Love Never Felt So Good on 5/12; a street-date Today Show piece; a Timbaland segment on 106 & Park and a 5/18 Billboard Music Awards setpiece featuring an MJ hologram.

Another first is a joint MTV-Twitter program called Amplify, which kicked off 5/8 and showcases four performances from the Jackson vault on the two platforms.

With 1.3 million Twitter followers, 73m Facebook likes and a VEVO channel that’s attracted 1.5 billion views and 1.7m subscribers, meanwhile, the chatter among Jackson fans on social and other online channels has naturally been feverish. Listening parties in NYC and L.A. helped raise the temperature among "superfans" and reviewers.

L.A. Times critic Randall Roberts wrote that Xscape feels shockingly vital … [Jackson’s] spirit rushes into the present with revived energy.”

These are but a few highlights of an effort that demonstrates the enduring power of an icon over whom death clearly has no dominion.

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