Madonna has not sold a lot of records in a long time. “American Life,” “Hard Candy,” and “MDNA” were stiffs on the charts, even though the Material Middle Aged Lady continued to sell concert tickets by the truckload.
Alas, her new album, “Rebel Heart,” buoyed by very positive reviews, is not taking off like a rocket. “Rebel Heart” dropped today to a luke warm greeting. Amazon has it at number 4, but that audience skews older and wants the physical CD. Over at iTunes, Madonna is at number 8. (Update: this evening the Super Deluxe “dirty” version of “Rebel Heart is number 1 at amazon and number 7 on iTunes.)
Those rankings aren’t bad considering she’s the oldest pop star in the top 40. But so far “Rebel Heart” has no radio hit, and no one single track on the iTunes top 100. She doesn’t really have a record label, which is part of the problem. Madonna is signed to Live Nation, which leases the album to Interscope. I don’t think anyone’s focused on radio, figuring instead that “Rebel Heart” is an adjunct to Madonna’s coming tour this fall. But if someone worked “Addicted” they might get a radio hit. And that would help.
“MDNA,” Madonna’s last album, premiered at number 1 with 359,000 copies. But that was a canard because most of the albums were deep discounted or given away with concert tickets (185,000 copies were sold that way). In the end, “MDNA” sold a total 539,000 copies. In its second week, “MDNA” had the biggest single drop from number 1 in history. Madonna’s team is playing it safe this time. But it may mean brutally low numbers next Monday.