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Madonna Interview : Billboard

In Europe, “Hung Up” remains at No. 1 on the Euro Digital Tracks tally for the second consecutive week.

Tracy Austin. PD of mainstream top 40 KRBE Houston, calls “Hung Up” a great bridge record between a hip-hop track and a Green Day song.

But Austin adds that if the cut was by another artist – one without a proven track record, say — the station might have approached it less enthusiastically.

On the rhythmic top 40 front, WBBM Chicago music director Erik Bradley says the format needs a song like “Hung Up.” He says “hip-hop music has been in a doldrums state” of late. WBBM listeners are now referring to the track as “Madonna’s big comeback,” Bradley adds.

On No 7 and Nov. 9, the catchy song will be featured in episodes of “CSI: Miami” and “CSI: NY,” respectively.

“We are off to a better than good start,” Warner Bros. executive VP Diarmuid Quinn says. “Because her last album [“American Life”] didn’t do quite as well as we had hoped, we really weren’t sure what the reception would be this time around.”

The interest in the new album underscores Madonna’s place in pop culture. “With her last album, many naysayers were questioning her relevancy,” Whalley says. “This new album puts all that to rest.”

The marketing of “Confessions” began in July, when Warner Bros. execs as well as Madonna’s management team of Guy Oseary and Angela Becker began playing tracks for radio and club DJs, retailers and other tastemakers around the world.

“We couldn’t wait to present this album to the world,” Warner Bros. senior VP of international marketing Steve Margo says. Thus began branding opportunities and partnerships with MTV Networks, Motorola, Apple Computer’s iTunes and mobile carriers like Orange in the United Kingdom.

“The goal is familiarity – and partnering with the right brands helps accomplish this,” Quinn says.

Madonna - Billboard / November 15 2005

None of this is lost on Madonna, who is considering a “Confessions” tour for next summer. “I’m a businesswoman. The music industry has changed,” she says. “There’s a lot of competition, and the market is glutted with new releases — and new ‘thises and thats.’ You must join forces with other brands and corporations. You’re an idiot if you don’t.”

One new alliance for Madonna is a reladonship with Apple that for the first time allows her songs to be sold through the iTunes Music Store (Billboard. Sept. 17).

According to Madonna, it came down to dollars and cents. It’s all about royalties — how much they’re getting and how much we’re getting,” she says. “It was just a crap deal. Then. It’s safe to say it’s better now.”

Obviously, the timing was well-orchestrated. “She is a savvy artist who is well aware of the changed marketplace,” Margo says. “She picked the window when it would have the most impact.”

If Madonna’s new fondness for Tunes is part ofa larger Apple initinive, as has been rumored — a branded video iPod or a branded pink Nano, perhaps — no one is talking.

The singer/songwriter does like the idea of a Madonna-branded pink Nano, though. “That would be cool,” she says. “I like that.”

Another key partner in the marketing of “Confessions” is MTV Networks. On Nov.8, mtv.com. vh1.com and logoonline.com begin exclusively previewing the album.

“It’s like we’ve been connected at the hip since day one,” Madonna says of their decades-long relationship.

In addition to starting out at around the same time, MTV and Madonna have evolved over the years. Reinvention is vital to their success stories.