Madonna is at a crossroads now. Her record deal with Interscope is over after a decade of not selling records, CDs, downloads, or streams. Variety first reported that news tonight.
It’s a situation not uncommon to older artists. Madonna was once a best selling pop star with Warner Music. Then she moved into the Interscope phase, which was tied to her concert tours. The albums were bundled with tickets to make it look like they were selling.
But in recent years, the record sales have dried up as radio stations don’t play new music by legacy stars. It’s hard to believe that the woman whose records are ubiquitous on oldies and disco stations can’t get arrested now on radio. The one time Material Girl turns 62 in a couple of weeks.
Madonna’s total sales this year, according to Buzz Angle/Alpha Data, comes to 28,300 albums in CD sales and paid downloads. Her last album, “Madame X,” has sold 170,000 copies since it was released on June 14, 2019. Of that number 125K was CDs and downloads. The rest came from streaming. I’m sorry to say, but that’s not enough to engage a contract from a major label.
Madonna could go the way of a lot of older artists and sign a vanity deal with BMG. But they just rubber stamp the release and do not marketing or distribution. (Ask Chrissie Hynde.) Warner’s could make a distribution deal with her since they have her biggest catalog. But there’s no money there for new Madonna music.
What Madonna could do is revive her Maverick Records as indie, use an outside distributor, and hire PR, radio, ad, social marketing etc people. What Madonna hasn’t really explored are box sets, taking old albums and making anniversary packages, finding lost recordings. For some legacy artists, that’s become a good business. (See Paul McCartney.)
But Madonna just posted to Instagram that she did everything to make her career, she had help from no one. She did it her way. So she may not find a lot of people who want to help her now when she needs it.