I'm not a Madonna fan, but I do admire how she's managed her career to this point. Few artists can manage this kind of longevity.
But circumstances surrounding the release of her MDNA album are far from the norm for her. Even with the massive lead-up to its release (including the Super Bowl performance and a sweetheart deal to play "Give Me All Your Luvin' with an American radio chain), things aren't working out the way they have in the past.
Yes, the album debuted at #1, but that's because in a process known as "bundling," fans who bought tickets to her upcoming world tour also received a coupon for the album. Sales of the new album have since experience at catastrophic collapse.
Then there were rumours that ticket sales for this tour weren't doing as well as expected. That prompted the normally press-shy Arthur Foegel, the chainman of Live Nation Global Touring, to state that “This tour is completely on track to end up in the top 10 tours of all time, especially considering we haven’t put South America or Australia on sale."
Now we hear that 180,000 people of the 600,000 who bought tickets to the tour have yet to redeem their coupon for a copy of MDNA. Why? Perhaps because everyone just wants to see her do "Like a Virgin" one more time.
All this begs to be analyzed in great depth. When does a long-time heritage artist reach that tipping point where fans no longer care about their new material? How old is too old to play the pop star game? (Madonna is 53). When did the old methods of the MTV era stop working? What's the state of mainstream music and mainstream music fans in 2012?
Expect Madonna be much more visible and accessible to the media in the weeks ahead. Meanwhile, watch for the sniping about Madonna's irrelevance to continue.