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Published: Wednesday, 3/17/2010

Sony counting on Jackson fans to keep buying his 'new' songs


LOS ANGELES - The record-breaking deal in which Michael Jackson's estate will get up to $250 million in the next seven years probably isn't a huge gamble for the company that will pay the money out, Sony Music Entertainment.

Before he died last June at age 50, Jackson, a prolific songwriter, left dozens of unreleased recordings.

Those include studio sessions from some of his best albums and recently recorded songs made with the likes of Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am.

Under a deal officially announced yesterday, Sony has guaranteed Jackson's estate $200 million for 10 projects over the next seven years.

If certain conditions are met, the payment could rise to $250 million.

Since Jackson's death, estate co-administrator John McClain, a childhood friend and Jackson producer, has combed through boxes of tapes and recordings Jackson left behind.

Mr. McClain found about 60 songs that have never been released, according to people familiar with the songs, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Even if only half of them are commercially viable, that would be enough for two or three albums.

"He always said his children would never have anything to worry about because he had volumes of songs to release," said Raymone Bain, who began representing Jackson during his child molestation trial in 2005.

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