For years after his death in August 1977, the estate of Elvis Presley earned hundreds of millions of dollars flogging the King’s music and memorabilia. An entire industry grew up around Elvis: impersonators, stage shows, endless reissues of his music, all manner of swag and the turning of Graceland into a tourist destination. It’s been a great 40 years. But how much longer will this bonanza continue?
Elvis’ original fans are dying off. Gen Xers are moving on and no longer interested in liking Elvis, even ironically. And Gen Y and Z? Don’t even ask. Except that someone did.
A YouGov poll of over 2,000 Brits says that 29% of 18-24 year-olds have never, ever listening to a single Elvis song. None reported to listening to him daily and only 8% admitted to listening to an Elvis song at least once a month. When pressed, only 12% said they liked Elvis, compared to the Beatles (23%) and Bowie (25%).
The Guardian also reports that the value of Elvis merch and memorabilia is cratering, a bad sign leading up to the 40th anniversary of his death. Bookings for Elvis impersonators are falling. About the only positive sign is that streams of Elvis music are doing well, with 328 million streams in 2016. Compare that to Bowie (600 million) and Michael Jackson (1.3 billion).
To everything there is a season, I guess.