This has got more to do with AEG than it does Warner Music. Rapino had to make sure he had the star under his belt, to prevent his rival from scooping her up, because there are very few arena acts left.
That’s the story. Who’s going to fill these buildings in the future?
Major labels aren’t breaking career acts. And radio and MTV could give a fuck. As for the niches, how does one grow them, in a cacophonous world where Radiohead’s music isn’t even going to get played on the radio, and will be forgotten by everybody but fans momentarily.
Not that there isn’t a Warner story here. How the major labels have been so busy protecting their rights that they’ve made music free. They don’t know how to market in this new world, and their economics are positively twentieth century. How many albums can this old broad sell ANYWAY?
Madonna blinked. She went back to the dance floor. The first time ever that she did not move the ball forward, did not give us something we didn’t expect. When the Material Girl starts worrying about her base, her impact on popular culture, you know the times are truly changing.
But people want to see Madonna live. The same way they still want to see "Mouse Trap" on the West End. But she’s better than a fixed play, she’s going to provide an EXTRAVAGANZA! She’ll make you laugh, she’ll shock you, you’ll get your money’s worth in water cooler stories. You’ll be able to relive your youth, and your children will get insight into what the Big 80s were truly about.
But an impact on popular culture? Come on. Unless it’s got to do with adoption or world peace or something. Madonna’s got no cultural impact musically anymore. But her expertise was never music, but BUSINESS! And she’s pulled off a good one here. Getting guranteed income. As for new music…
If Madonna CHOOSES to make new music, she can afford to give it away with concert tickets. And that’s a better plan than selling it via Starbucks. Whoo-hoo, you get a lot of publicity, but no one hears the tunes. Paul McCartney hasn’t even gone platinum. So he made a few bucks… Believe me, future Starbucks deals won’t be so rich in the future. They overpaid Paul to make an impact. And Joni’s record ain’t burning up the chart.
Bottom line, the majors have lost their clout. Their monopoly was always distribution, and they used this to get talent to sign. Eventually they owned EXHIBITION also. So, if you wanted to play, you had to sign with them. The fact that they weren’t hip enough to know this wasn’t going to last forever is astounding, especially since trends come and go so quickly in the music business.
Not that quickly in the past though. Bands used to have first class runs in the neighborhood of a decade. And although their new music may or may not be relevant, this catalog of hits drives people to the gig.
And Madonna had plenty of hits. Hell, if you don’t own "The Immaculate Collection", you’re not a music fan. You want to see her live.
But, young ‘uns who are going to follow her into the buildings? That’s Live Nation’s challenge, to create new hit acts, not skim the cream of the old world. So far, they’ve shown no evidence of breakthroughs in this area. AEG doesn’t even want to play in this area. Who is going to build acts in the future? Not the promoter, not the major label…