Monday, August 20, 2007

Madonna screws the majors?

A fascinating snippet of gossip in today's Times suggests Madonna could be about to leave Warners, her label since back when she was good, to sign a deal with LiveNation.

Yes, as in the former promotional wing of Clear Channel.

The idea would be to wrap up her live music with recording rights; it's probably going to give the majors more to worry about than McCartney tying up with Starbucks because, while McCartney is mainly a back-catalogue type of guy, new Madonna records still sell really well.

The few major label managers who have a plan for their industry in the future beyond smashing all computers and trying to make Apple give them a dollar for every iPod sold have grasped that they need to reinvent what they do as more of an artist management business - it was that which inspired Universal to shell out the best part of fifty million quid buying Sanctuary.

Trouble for the labels is, with everyone agreeing that for top-drawer artists, the live part is now a more significant earner than their recorded work, the smart move seems to be to tie yourself to a copmpany whose expertise is in live promotion and can sub-contract the CD and digital releases, rather than tying yourself to a company which is struggling with digital releases and CD sales and doesn't have any in-house capacity to do the live promo work.