The long-rumored agreement between Madonna and concert-promotion monster Live Nation is about to come to fruition, with a $120 million deal between the two–and Madonna’s departure from her current label, Warner Music Group–all but certain. The Wall Street Journal reports that the deal is for 10 years, and it’ll encompass three studio albums, tours, merch, and licensing; Madonna still has to release one album and a greatest-hits package through WMG, which will also continue to own all of her recordings for the past 20 years. So is this deal yet another nail in the coffin of major labels? Maybe, although it looks more like a frostily amicable divorce between Madonna and WMG than anything else.
And that’s because Madonna currently makes a freaking mint from touring, while her album sales have comparatively languished. Last year’s Confessions On A Dance Floor has sold 1.6 million copies in the US, while the soy latte-praising American Life hasn’t even broken the million-sold mark; in comparison, she made roughly $195 million from hitting the road last year alone, according to Billboard. True, whether she’ll remain a draw for the next 10 years is something of a gamble for Live Nation–especially as she gets older and relies more on her backup dancers for the high-wire sexing–but I’m thinking Warner Music Group’s decision to say “see ya” and give up the rights to distribute her forthcoming records was probably a smart one, especially if that crummy Pharrell collaboration is anything to go by. They’ll still control the rights to/make whatever money can still be made from selling records off her biggest hits–including The Immaculate Collection and whatever best-of package gets dreamed up as a getting-out-of-her-contract scheme–and Live Nation will be able to (biz-speak alert!) vertically integrate its venues with one of said venues’ biggest draws. Everybody wins! Except probably people who want to see her in concert, since they’ll likely have to sell an egg or two in order to finance the cost of a nosebleed seat.