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Michael Jackson dominating iTunes, YouTube

The size of singer's celebrity is illuminated in its impact on the Web. Download and CD sales skyrocket, scores of fans watch YouTube videos, and news sites are overwhelmed.


Michael Jackson, who along with four of his brothers recorded his first hit songs as a child, continues to be a chart topper a day after his death.

On Friday, Jackson's music was attracting huge audiences at Apple's iTunes and Amazon.com. On iTunes, the Web's largest music service, 8 out of the top-10-selling albums for download were from Jackson, with a compilation album, "The Essential Michael Jackson" in the No. 1 spot.

Jackson held the same number of top-10 positions among iTunes music videos. Jackson's "Thriller" music video, one of the hallmarks of his career as well as the genre, was the top seller. Of the top-selling songs at iTunes, Jackson held 5 of the top 10 positions. At Amazon, 10 of the top 25 albums for download belonged to Jackson.

When it came to CDs, Jackson held 17 of the top 20 spots, including all of the top 10.

These are just a few of he ways that the size of the singer's celebrity is illuminated. Download sales skyrocket, scores of fans watch his YouTube music videos, news sites are nearly overwhelmed. Jackson was pronounced dead at 2:25 p.m. PT on Thursday after collapsing at a rental home in Los Angeles. According to numerous published reports, an autopsy was due to be performed Friday.

When news started to spread that the performer had collapsed, it drove a massive wave of people to the Web for details about his condition. The ensuing traffic crush nearly crippled several large media sites, according to Keynote Systems, which tracks site performance.

At Google's YouTube, fans flocked to view his music videos, such as "Thriller" and "Beat It," and the ensuing traffic appeared to bog down the streaming quality. It took me a half hour to watch the 13-minute "Thriller" video. Fans also began uploading their own videos to YouTube in honor of Jackson. The site is already hosting thousands of fan-produced YouTube clips reacting to the news of his death, according to Google, including vlogs and tribute dances.

At about 5:30 p.m. PT on Thursday, the "Thriller" video had been viewed just more than 37 million times and had about 105,000 comments. It's unclear how many times it had been watched or how many comments the video had before Jackson's death. But by late Friday morning, "Thriller" had accumulated 38,619,665 views, or more than 1.6 million since yesterday and 144,676 comments.

"I took a screenshot of the MJ YouTube Channel shortly after news broke about his death," YouTube spokesman Spencer Crooks said in an e-mail. "The channel views are up about 3 million. The channel subscribers are up nearly 50,000 and climbing. Most of the popular videos are up at least a million views. These are not exact numbers, as I took the screenshot after the news broke, and they are all still rising fast."