Last week, William Orbit was talking with friends and fans on his Facebook page about Madonna and his original version of Ray of Light when a person using the name Madonna Express Yourself posted a lengthy statement, blaming the relatively poor sales of the singers MDNA on moves by her record company.
William, please bring this to Madonna’s attention:Madonna has now released 2 singles through Interscope in the UK, both have been disastrous. ‘Give Me All Your Luvin’ was released with many sales deemed chart ineligible, due to an unnecessary free download with pre order of the album. Based on sales of the single during this period, Madonna would have earned another UK number 1. However, the single peaked at number 37 becoming her second lowest ever UK top 40 position, unheard of for a first single from a Madonna album. Physical copies of the single weren’t released for weeks and were almost impossible to find. Interscope then spent time promoting ‘Masterpiece’ to radio, with the song A-Listed on BBCR2 and charting at number 68 – but the song failed to be promoted further or officially released as a single, adding another dismal charting for MDNA. A video for ‘Girl Gone Wild’ was then heavily promoted, but the single was nowhere to be seen. Despite it’s March video release, the ‘GGW’ single failed to materialise in the UK until Friday(!!) 11th May on iTunes (guaranteeing a low chart for that week as UK charts are run Mon-Sat. Physical copies were released the week of May 14th, with promotion already been and gone for the single. Midweek chart figures show the single at number 49 in the Uk chart – which will be Madonna’s lowest charting official single release ever in the UK, ‘Borderline’ reached 56 on it’s initial run in 1984 but later climbed to number 2 on re-release. The album MDNA, despite reaching number 1 in the UK album chart on it’s first week, has now disappeared out of the UK top 40 within 6 weeks! This all seems very suspicious, perhaps a way of ‘Interscope’ fazing out Madonna single releases. Had the singles been released on time and in line with the videos, Madonna would certainly have had further top 10 hits in the UK, which would have helped MDNA maintain chart sales. As it stands now, most people are writing off the brilliant album due to all the flop single releases. Madonna fans should demand to know what is going on and why are the releases so badly promoted. Even with Madonna’s lack of promotion, the singles would stand up well on their own if ‘Interscope’ sorted out proper release dates instead of waiting months to release already promoted singles. They are gradually destroying Madonna’s career in the UK and giving haters a reason to write her off for future releases.
Orbit responded to the fan with his own take on the recording and promotion of the album, one that gives a unique perspective on the current state of the music business, the singer and how a good album by a major artist can still fall through the cracks.
I appreciate your analysis of the album release ‘strategy’ @Madonna Express Yourself. I wasn’t involved in its formulation in any way myself. All I will say is that certain thoughts about it that I see expressed online by committed fans such as yourself, were blindingly obvious to me from the very get go, well before the release. But I’m no Jimmy Iovine, with the ability to advocate my convictions forcefully, and as co-producer, co-writer etc am aware that it is not in my ‘job spec’.
But you won’t see me exactly jumping up and down with delight over the way that things have panned out. We were very pushed for time, due to a rather interesting and shall we just say, ‘traditional’ method of recording that the esteemed engineer Demo was partial to, and various pressing commitments that took up the artists limited time, such as perfume ranges and teen fashion contests and other such endeavours which are beyond my own limited understanding of pop star agendas.
The recording sessions for the six songs I did were hugely enjoyable for all of us. M was on form and better than ever with her singing and writing and musicality, and was having a great time. We had songs lined up that were breathtaking. You’ll hear some of them on Chris Brown’s new album, and they are the best ones, Kreayshawn’s (INCREDIBLE) new album, my own recently completed ‘Strange Cargo’ album. And some other surprising places. SNAPPED up by the artists concerned. Most of them, I believe, destined to become classics (let me know in a couple months wether you concur with that)
The team I assembled in NY for MDNA were, and are as good as it gets now. Writers and musicians and performers I picked because they take my breath away with their talent. And are totally of-the-moment in everything good that is going on in contemporary music at the moment. And usually hard to book because they are so in demand. And all of us fully committed to putting ourselves through extraordinary efforts to make MDNA the greatest album of the year.
But alas, the time wasn’t there. Great swathes of it taken up by the engineer and his assistant bouncing reverb tracks for hour after hour, night after night. Not to real tape or anything, where you could posit that there would be an advantageous sonic dividend (real tape can be magic) but all in the digital domain. A purely procedural thing. Although not a procedure I or any of my own colleagues in this game would want to squander time with.
I was just describing to a friend of mine, and whom I frequently work with Serban Ghenea (just look him up if you want to be awed) how it was done, and he thought I was kidding him!
There. I’ve said it. I did try to say it earlier but I must have not made the point with enough push, my way being to always say it with the music itself.
Over the years it’s become obvious to me that along with Madonna being the greatest pop artist of ALL time, her fan base are also the most ardent, cohesive, discerning and loyal fan base of any artist. Not saying that to blow smoke, is quite obviously true. Big respect. And long life to us all. And as you look at things in a ‘long term’ way (my way also) you always call it like you see it. And I’m with you on that too. Be honest and true, speak your heart and mind, and let the dust fall where it will.