On February 11, 2012, Whitney Houston passed away, but thankfully her legacy lives on forever. The world knows Houston as the legendary voice that sang the sweetest gospel, pop, and R&B.
But as AfroTech previously reported, Houston’s sudden passing left her estate in a bit of turmoil. Most of the troubles stemmed from the nature of her $100 million artist contract — the last she signed with Sony/Arista.
Celebrity Net Worth reveals that, ultimately, Houston only earned $40 million out of the total $100 million that her record company owed her. It’s important to note that record companies don’t pay out the full value of the contract upon signing — and in Houston’s case, she was in debt to Sony/Arista at the time of her $100 million signing, which made the accounting even more complicated.
“An artist is paid in stages, and each payment is essentially a loan based on the success of future albums,” reports the outlet. “Whitney only ever earned $40 million of her $100 million contract but unfortunately her records did not sell well. Therefore she ended up actually owing the record label nearly $20 million.”
Things, however, have turned around for the “I Will Always Love You” singer. Since Sony/Arista owned the rights to Houston’s back catalog — whose royalties began skyrocketing after Houston passed away — they were able to recoup some of the losses that Houston incurred during her lifetime. And thanks to additional smart business moves in the decade since her passing, the estate continues to generate money.
Let’s take a look at how Whitney Houston had a post-mortem bounce back that was, and remains, unprecedented.
Editorial note: The net worth listed in this piece is a speculative estimate drawn from a variety of online sources.
As AfroTech previously reported, Whitney Houston’s estate has sold various non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of the singer’s likeness to turn a profit. Her estate partnered with the Quincy Jones-backed OneOf to release a series of NFTs featuring her likeness, and an NFT featuring a 17-year-old Whitney Houston sold for just under $1 million.
Primary Wave Deal
By far, the largest provider of capital infusion into the Whitney Houston estate is the estate’s partners at Primary Wave Music. According to Variety, Houston’s estate partnered with the music giant back in 2019, “taking a 50% stake in the singer’s music assets.”
“We have massively, over the course of our three-year partnership, improved the earnings of the estate,” said Primary Wave founder and CEO Larry Mestel, to the outlet. “We’ve basically quadrupled the earnings stream of the estate through a lot of low-hanging fruit: renegotiation of partnerships, focusing on merchandise, digital strategy, and social media enhancement — upping the game in general.”
“It was time to rebuild Whitney’s business and Primary Wave, with its arsenal of industry professionals, were the right fit, a team packaged to elevate Whitney’s legacy to the next level,” said Pat Houston, Houston’s sister-in-law and former manager, who is an executor of her estate.
Since the partnership, Primary Wave Music has released new Whitney Houston songs (including a dance remix of “Higher Love,” which was a hit in 2019), created a Whitney Houston biopic, and has plans for additional posthumous album releases including a live album and a gospel album featuring the late singer.
The Famous Hologram
And then, of course, there’s the income generator currently playing at Harrah’s in Las Vegas, NV. If you’ve ever missed the chance to see Whitney Houston live, Sin City is here with the ultimate wish fulfillment: a live hologram performance featuring the late singer.