Madonna finally looks set to seal her move from Warner to concert promoter Live Nation. Are the walls tumbling down on the music industry? No. Granted Madonna is a bigger fish than the other refusniks (or at least is at a better stage of her career). But this isn’t Madonna leaving the record industry. She’s signed a record deal with Live Nation – they have rights for three studio albums, tours and merchandise. This is just a normal record label 360 deal with the emphasis on live rather than recordings. This move is much more comparable to Paul McCartney going to Starbucks i.e. getting better terms as big fish in a small pond, where the new employers will pay over the odds for the catch (and yes, my metaphor is somewhat mixed).
The real trend is that the majors are finding it harder to hold onto some of their big, veteran stars. But that inability is not entirely without choice i.e. in these leaner days they are less willing to meet the huge fee demands such artists have accumulated from their years of glory, that their current status doesn’t always justify. Madonna is of course slightly different in that she is still a massive artist, but that doesn’t mean that her terms aren’t simply too big for Warner to seriously countenance.