Madonna: Like a business pioneer? — pdf
Madonna, who long ago reshaped the definition of a pop superstar, now appears intent on redefining the traditional model of a record label, according to people familiar with a possible 10-year, $120-million deal that is under negotiation.
Reports have been circulating since June that the 49-year-old icon might walk away from her longtime label, Warner Music, to sign a comprehensive deal with Live Nation Inc., the concert promoter. That deal would have Live Nation not only selling her recordings and mounting her lucrative tours but also handling her merchandising, corporate sponsorship deals and the licensing of her name and image.
The deal is not signed, but last week Madonna’s management told Warner that the singer would be bolting because the label had failed to match the offer made by Live Nation, according to someone close to the situation who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to comment.
[…] Attorney Don Passman, who has represented artists such as Mariah Carey, R.E.M. and Tina Turner and written “Everything You Need to Know About the Music Business,” said the weakened labels had been pushing for deals with newer acts that give the labels access to income streams they haven’t traditionally dipped into, such as the act’s concert touring. Now, the labels are seeing a push back in the form of Live Nation’s overtures.
The major labels once had singular inroads to radio and bricks-and-mortar retail, but as those two sectors have narrowed, that advantage has become less vital.
Also Madonna Nears Deal to Leave Record Label
It also comes as the major record companies are reeling from the loss of historically reliable brand-name acts. Word of Madonna’s likely exit from Warner Brothers, a unit of the publicly held Warner Music Group, came the same day that one of rock’s biggest free agent acts, the acclaimed British band Radiohead, started delivering digital copies of its new album directly to fans, in a big break with industry convention. Another influential free agent band, the Eagles, is selling its new album directly to Wal-Mart Stores.
Later: LATimes op-ed: Madonna morphs again — pdf
The news isn’t all bad for the major labels. They recently won a $222,000 judgment against a single mother in Minnesota for sharing two dozen songs online through Kazaa. But an uncollectable judgment is cold comfort for an industry that’s losing support on both ends of its business.
Not only are customers finding other ways to fill their musical needs, so are the musicians.