Madonna to release first album in Live Nation deal

LOS ANGELES (AP) ? The Material Girl is finally going to make good on her promise to produce new albums under an all-encompassing rights deal worth $120 million that she signed with concert promoter Live Nation more than four years ago.

Madonna will release a new album in late March through Universal Music Group’s Interscope Records, the label said Thursday.

Live Nation Entertainment Inc. will participate in the profits, if the album does well.

It will be her first album in five years and is part of a three-album agreement with Interscope. It will follow the late January release of the single “Gimme All Your Luvin'” and her halftime performance at the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.

Madonna broke from her longtime music backer, Warner Music Group, and was among the first of a host of megastars that Live Nation signed to huge rights deals that would give the concert promoter a share of revenue from touring, merchandise, fan clubs, sponsorships and even recorded music. Her deal covered 10 years.

Other pricey deals around that time included artists Jay-Z, Shakira, Nickelback and U2.

Live Nation has never had the ability to record, promote and distribute albums, so it has tied up with traditional recording companies to make its so-called “360 deals” work.

Jay-Z released his first album under his deal, “The Blueprint 3,” with the help of Warner Music’s Atlantic label in September 2009. “Watch the Throne,” the rapper’s collaborative album with Kanye West, came out in August with an assist from Universal’s Def Jam.

Madonna’s manager, Guy Oseary, said in a statement that “we couldn’t be happier” with the new arrangement. “We anticipate a very bright future at our new home.”

The expensive signings have not quite worked out as expected for Live Nation. It issued $25 million in new stock to pay Madonna in October 2007, but later found itself on the hook to make up the difference in cash when its stock price collapsed.

Live Nation shares closed at $8.23 on Thursday, down from $21.45 the day it closed the deal with Madonna.

It also took a $13.4 million write-down on the deals in the first quarter of 2010 as it revised downward their expected value.

The company, which merged with Ticketmaster in early 2010, has generated some sales from the deals, however. Madonna’s “Sticky & Sweet” tour, which began in August 2008, went on to gross more than $400 million, giving her the crown for the most successful tour ever by a solo artist.