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Monday, March 31, 2008
Last Updated: 2:02am BST 31/03/2008
She might be just months away from her 50th birthday, but Madonna is proving she's still the ultimate Material Girl when it comes to making money from her music.
The singer, who is the most successful female recording artist in history, has earned millions with her new album Hard Candy - even though it does not go on sale until next month.
Material girl: Madonna is the most marketing savvy musician in the world
She has signed lucrative contracts with major companies including Vodafone, Unilever and Fuji, which will use her music to sell products from hairspray to mobile phones. The deals, which involve more than half the tracks on the album, have not only earned the London-based mother of three a not-so-small fortune, they will ensure her album receives free global publicity ahead of its release.
Madonna's deal with Vodafone means the network's customers will be able to listen to seven tracks one week before the album's worldwide release on April 28. It is the first time an artist has launched an album on a mobile phone.
Her new single, 4 Minutes, which features Justin Timberlake, is already being used in a commercial for Unilever's Sunsilk hair care range. The advertisement, which premiered during the American football Super Bowl, is set to go global next month. It includes more than a dozen images of her at different stages of her career. The track will also feature in Timberlake's film Get Smart.
Madonna has also licensed Miles Away, expected to be the album's second single, as the theme for a drama called Change on Japan's Fuji TV.
In a move that is likely to infuriate some fans, the eagerly awaited video for 4 Minutes, with Madonna and Timberlake, will make its debut online rather than on MTV.
John Reid, the president of Warner Music Europe and vice-chairman of Warner Music International, Madonna's label, said: "It's not about upfront payments, it's about selling the product. She is a very smart businesswoman who wants to sell a lot of albums.
"These companies want their customers to know about their links with Madonna. They are going to promote the deals and her music online and in extensive television, radio and press adverts."
He added: "If it all goes to plan then there is no reason why other acts shouldn't strike similar deals."
Madonna is not the first artist to make her work available to advertisers, but past commercials have tended to feature songs only after they have been released.
Claire Beale, the editor of Campaign, the advertising industry's trade paper said: "These deals prove that Madonna is the most marketing-savvy musician in the world. She's a case study of what great marketing is.
"Using advertisements to promote a new single in advance of its release is very shrewd indeed."
Stuart Clarke, the talent editor of Music Week, said: "When you first hear about 4 Minutes being used for a Sunsilk campaign you think 'how tacky'. You then see the advert and you realise what a brilliant idea it is.
"It is as much an advert for her and her music as it is for the product she is supposed to be selling. No one else could get away with that."
The song 4 Minutes has already entered the UK charts at number seven on downloads alone. It is expected to enter the top five today, even though the video still has not been seen and the record has yet to released.
Gennaro Castalodo, a spokesman for HMV, said: "Madonna knows it's not just about reaching her own fans, who are going to buy the record anyway."
You go, material girl
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