Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Revisited: Celebration means more money for Madonna

Since MSN.ca has removed all of the blogs I wrote for it three times a week from August 2009 to August 2011, I've decided to repost some that I feel may still have some relevance on Steve Says. Since the new Madonna tour has her back in the news again, I thought I'd go back and share my thoughts on her.
I'll be adding these Revisited columns on a semi-regular basis, so please drop by if you're interested.
Here we go:
From Aug. 28, 2009
Celebration means more money for Madonna
Madonna's "Celebration" single is also the title track of her latest greatest hits package. The collection will be available on Sept. 29 as both a two-CD, 36-song set and a double-DVD compilation with 47 music videos — including 18 that have never been seen before.

The songs were chosen using suggestions from fans responding to Madonna manager Guy Oseary's Twitter page, but with the singer making the final decisions on what was included. Like always, Madonna was in control.

But is Madonna more concerned with music or money these days?

Many of the songs on the Celebration CDs were already included on 1990's mega-selling The Immaculate Collection, and it can't be denied that the '80s were Madonna's peak creative period. "Holiday," "Lucky Star," "Like A Virgin," "Material Girl" and "Into The Groove" are classic pop hits, while "Borderline," "Crazy For You," "Papa Don't Preach," "La Isla Bonita," "Like A Prayer" and "Express Yourselves" aren't far behind.

GHV2 covered Madonna material recorded from 1992 to 2000 and included the high points from that decade, including "Erotica," "Beautiful Stranger," "Ray Of Light" and "Music." All are good, but perhaps only "Ray Of Light" qualifies as great.

But from Madonna's past three albums, notwithstanding the international commercial success of Confessions On A Dance Floor's "Hung Up," it's hard to stack up the material positively against her earlier repertoire.

Celebration will conclude Madonna's 27-year relationship with Warner Bros. Records, before the artist starts her all-encompassing deal with Live Nation that's been estimated to be worth $120 million U.S. over 10 years. It covers future music and music-related businesses, including the Madonna brand, albums, DVDs, touring, merchandising, fan club, website, music-related television and film projects, and associated sponsorship agreements.

"The paradigm in the music business has shifted and, as an artist and a businesswoman, I have to move with that shift," Madonna said in a 2007 statement when the agreement was announced.

"For the first time in my career, the way that my music can reach my fans is unlimited. I’ve never wanted to think in a limited way and, with this new partnership, the possibilities are endless."

Forbes Magazine recently named Madonna the third most powerful celebrity of 2009. She's sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, and Celebration will add handsomely to that total. The Michigan native has branched into films and books while being cited by Guinness World Records as the most successful female recording artist ever. Her Sticky & Sweet Tour, which winds down in Tel Aviv, Israel on Sept. 2, is the most lucrative ever by a solo artist.

But Madonna is 51, her best music seems well in her past, and even her strict exercise regime and more cosmetic surgery won't be able to maintain the sexiness that's been a big part of her appeal forever.

The music industry isn't as lucrative as it was even two years ago when Live Nation signed Madonna, so the company could be hard-pressed to make a healthy return on its investment while its client may be able to buy Malawi instead of merely adopting kids from there.

There's no denying Madonna's place in history, but it may be for her skills as a businesswoman as much as a music artist. She really is a Material Girl.


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