Madonna’s “Rebel Heart” might have been number 1 if it weren’t for the soundtrack to the TV series “Empire.” When the numbers come in this afternoon at hitsdailydouble, “Rebel Heart” will be number 1 on the total chart, which counts streaming and all digital downloads. “Empire” will be number 1. “Empire” will also finish at number 1 on Billboard’s chart, as they now count everything, too.
Who could have guessed that “Empire” would come out of nowhere and steal all the attention in the culture? It’s out of left field, an ambush of sorts.
Madonna’s one consolation: she’ll be number 1 on the hitsdailydouble “regular” chart which is just CDs and digital downloads, but no counts from places like Spotify or Pandora. Some of Madonna’s sales will come from digital copies of “Rebel Heart” that came with concert tickets. But I’m told by various sources that those copies are not a big factor, not anything like they were two years ago for “MDNA.”
The rough numbers stack up like this: “Rebel Heart” will have a total of about 115,00 copies. “Empire” will have around 130,000 copies. Around 25,000 “Empire” sales come from streaming, however. But they count into that total, so in the end, Madonna does not debut at number 1 for the first time since 1998.
Actual numbers: streaming plus sales Empire 128,640; Madonna 121,972.
What I do hear is that next week, Madonna could have a drop similar — around 70%–to her record breaking snap in 2013. Even though Madonna will appear on the “Ellen” show from today through Friday, “Empire” has the momentum. They also have a two hour season finale on Wednesday night that should go through the roof.
New releases today from Modest Mouse and AWOL Nation may play a part in sales of those two albums as well.
On the other hand, Madonna’s concert tickets are where the meat and potatoes are for the Material Woman. And there, she’s doing fine.
But what’s happened to Madonna is not new. Her album sales have been in decline for over a decade. She is no different than any other legacy artist trying to sell new music, from Pink Floyd to Mariah Carey to Jennifer Lopez and so on. Teens drive album sales, and they don’t want even the best music from people older than their parents. Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett are the exceptions. I wish it were otherwise. But radio doesn’t want “old” voices, so there’ s no place to promote this stuff. Sirius XM satellite radio is pretty much the only safe haven for classic artists to showcase new work. And legacy fans pretty much just want the Hits. Over and over. It’s a shame. Maybe this is why Billy Joel shut down writing new music 20 years ago.
What should Madonna do? Her next record should get younger artists to join her in re-recording hits in duets. This usually works like a charm.
PS I love “Ellen,” but the idea of Madonna doing it. She must be biting her tongue the whole time. Young mothers and housewives are not her scene. I hope it helps.
Meanwhile, here’s one of my favorite Madonna songs: