- The Washington Times - Friday, October 18, 2019

Digital platforms saw an uptick in users listening to Michael Jackson’s music amid renewed interest in child sex abuse charges made against the late singer, a report showed Friday.

Music industry magazine Billboard identified the increase while analyzing data from before and after the release of “Leaving Neverland,” a documentary about two men who allege they were sexually abused by Jackson when they were children.

The number of on-demand listens garnered by Jackson’s catalog on streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music increased by 22.1% in the 31 weeks following the film’s release in March by HBO, slightly outpacing the 21.8% growth experienced by the streaming industry as a whole, Billboard reported.

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Radio stations played Jackson’s music 32.1% less following the film’s release, meanwhile, according to the magazine. An analysis of Nielsen Music data suggested Jackson’s songs were played an average of 14,000 per week on radio in the month before HBO first aired the movie, while stations have played his music roughly 11,000 times weekly in the months since, the report said.

Jackson died in 2009 at the age of 50. Allegations of child molestation had dogged him since the early 1990s, though the release of “Leaving Neverland” called graphic attention to the claims and put the future of his posthumous career in question. Radio stations in several countries stopped playing Jackson’s music in response, and he was publicly denounced by a number of his past collaborators.

A poll conducted in early March following the film’s release found that 16% of respondents said they had stopped listening to Jackson’s music.

Jackson’s estate has disputed the documentary’s claims and is suing HBO for $100 million.

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