Is U.S. Radio Boycotting Madonna?
Mon, 24 Jul 2006 11:18:04
Okay, fine: Madonna's last album, American Life, sucked. But her latest effort, Confessions on a Dance Floor, has sold 1.5 million copies and spawned a soldout North American tour that may break sales records. So why is American radio ignoring this album even more than it cold-shouldered American Life?
While fans swap conspiracy theories, cry "boycott" and launch online petitions to get their heroine back on the airwaves, Billboard magazine looked into the question and came up with a simpler, but no less troubling answer: radio formats in the United States have simply gotten too narrow to accomodate certain styles of pop music, including the "retro," disco-flavored music on Madge's latest.
According to one Clear Channel programming director, Madonna singles like "Sorry" and "Get Together" don't make the top 40 airplay cut because they fit neither mainstream top 40, which is dominated by hip-hop and R&B-flavored pop stars like Rihanna and Nelly Furtado, nor adult top 40, home to the softer, feel-good sounds of megastars like James Blunt and Kelly Clarkson.
Even Madonna's own label, Warner Bros., acknowledges the problem. "Top 40 radio is so hip-hop-driven," Tom Biery, senior VP of promotions, told Billboard. "We were coming in with a global pop star who made a dance record."
Overseas, Confessions on a Dance Floor has fared better, topping charts in 29 countries, selling over 8 million copies, and getting its singles into heavy rotation on a variety of stations. In the United Kingdom alone, "Get Together" reached an estimated 38.4 million listeners in the week ending July 15, compared to only one million listeners in the States for the same period.
So what does it mean for U.S. radio when one of the biggest stars on the planet can't get her music on the airwaves? For now, it just means that her label will have to try different tactics to woo radio programmers. Biery says Warner Bros. will push Madonna's next single, "Jump," to adult contemporary radio first, before trying to reach mainstream top 40. And they're hoping that Madonna, like other struggling artists trying to reach a mainstream audience, will benefit from placement in movie soundtracks; "Jump" can currently be heard in the hit film The Devil Wears Prada.
--The ARTISTdirect Staff