It’s been a decade since Whitney Houston tragically passed away at the age of 48. Since then, Primary Wave Music has partnered with Houston’s estate and acquired a 50% stake of her music assets to preserve her legacy for generations to come. According to Variety, the company has seen a quadruple growth in earnings—here’s how.
In 2017, they released a Kygo remix of Houston’s “Higher Love” which peaked No. 1 on Billboard’s Dance Club Play chart and No. 7 on Adult Contemporary radio. This kickstarted a demand for merchandise and branding opportunities and sparked a surge of streams for the rest of her discography.
“We have massively, over the course of our three-year partnership, improved the earnings of the estate,” Primary Wave founder and CEO Larry Mestel stated. “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.”
Funny enough, this doesn’t include any previously announced projects that have yet to come to fruition like the Broadway show or the Las Vegas tribute show. The official biopic for the late singer, I Wanna Dance With Somebody, is slated for a theatrical release on Dec. 23 with an accompanying soundtrack in the works via RCA Records. Two new posthumous albums—a gospel collection and live album—will arrive in 2023 near what would’ve been Houston’s 60th birthday.
The gospel compilation will include a blend of live and recorded unreleased tracks for 1996’s The Preacher’s Wife soundtrack. The film’s original soundtrack peaked at No. 3 on the charts and is certified 3x platinum.
Of the forthcoming albums, Primary Wave chief marketing officer Adam Lowenberg expressed in a statement, “When Pat and Donna [Houston] played us a couple of live performances, it was literally goosebump moments. Whether it’s a cover song that she would do or one of her hits, you never heard anything in concert the same way twice with Whitney. We really want to make sure the fan base hears it and hears it properly. We want to stay as organic and true as to who Whitney was at all times; that’s very important to us and the estate. Living and loving gospel music is a very big part of who she was; it’s going to be quite the package.”
In Dec. 2021, an NFT was auctioned off for $1.1 million that included an archival demo recording of an unnamed Houston song, along with a reimagined music video by a rising digital artist. Revenue from this sale was now included in Primary Wave Music’s earnings report.