NASHVILLE (Billboard) - The music industry is buzzing with talk that Madonna is considering an exit from her longtime home, Warner Music Group.
Most of the focus centers on a deal said to be in the works with tour promoter Live Nation that would encompass recorded music, touring, merchandising and other business concerns.
Live Nation, the world’s largest live event producer and venue operator, has produced Madonna’s past three world tours, which grossed about $400 million combined.
Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino has expressed a desire for the company to form longer-term and more complex relationships with artists. But a multifaceted deal with an artist of Madonna’s stature — one that would include a label component as well as a Madonna’s lucrative touring business — would be the most ambitious undertaking under Rapino’s watch.
One source estimated the value of the Live Nation offer to be $180 million, with the company potentially licensing the recording rights for about $30 million.
Madonna has two more albums due on her contract with WMG, according to a label spokeswoman: an album of new material is expected late this year or early 2008, and a greatest hits project.
It is doubtful that WMG, the only label to which Madonna has ever been signed, would give up the Material Girl without a fight. Sources said that company has made a counteroffer to Madonna that also includes a touring component that could be helmed by rival promoter AEG Live. AEG Live declined comment.
The WMG spokeswoman said the label hopes to continue with Madonna — who is “worshipped and respected as a great artist at the company” — but is not surprised that she is receiving rival offers.