Michael Jackson has sold over 1 million CDs in the US alone in the last 5 days, and Sony Music has orders for at least 2 million more, according to industry standard Hits magazine. What's more, an unprecedented 2.4 million downloads of MJ tracks have been sold, giving him also an unprecedented 48 places out of the Top 200 Digital Songs chart. There hasn't been a week like this in the music business since it's heyday of the 90's.
To give an example of how unusual and exceptional all this sales activity is, Nirvana sales rose to only 77,000 the week after Kurt Cobain died in 1994 (Nirvana started the last big trend in music), and sales of Notorious B.I.G. Life After Death (which was just about to be released) were 698,000 the first week after his death in 1997.
What MJ's sales success proves is that there are still plenty of potential music purchasers out there. The problem is that there's not a lot of music that's exciting enough for them to want to buy. Granted, this is a special case that may not be repeated for a long time, if ever. But it's also possible that a new artist at the tip of a new trend can duplicate MJ's current numbers. As everyone in the business is brutally aware, we're way past due for something new.