Today in Madonna History: June 23, 1998

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On June 23 1998, the music video for Ray of Light was released by Warner Reprise Video as a limited edition video single of 40,000 VHS copies. It sold 7,381 copies within its first month of release, becoming one of the best-selling video singles of the Nielsen SoundScan era. Madonna’s previous video single release, Justify My Love, which predated SoundScan, was certified quadruple-Platinum by the RIAA (for shipment of over 200,000 copies).

The reason behind Ray of Light being issued as a video single were twofold. Madonna was very pleased with the outcome of her first collaboration with director Jonas Åkerlund and her record company felt that there would be enough interest to warrant its commercial release. Secondly, Warner’s marketing team correctly sensed that the song’s then-experimental sound would be a tough sell at radio, so the decision was made to pull out all the stops to ensure the release outperformed on the sales chart. Another prong in this strategy was the inclusion of album outtake Has To Be as the b-side to the two-track single, while excluding it from the maxi-single in an attempt to persuade fans to purchase the single in multiple formats. The strategy proved successful, with the song’s number-five debut and peak on the Billboard Hot 100 mainly due to its sales strength. According to Billboard, the music video single boosted its first-week sales by roughly 7%, helping it to secure its place in the top-five.

Shortly after Ray of Light‘s release as a video single, Billboard magazine published an article musing on whether renewed interest in the relatively obscure format could ever prove lucrative for the music industry. A video buyer for a major retail chained remarked:

“Madonna’s Ray of Light video single is a success because she has a fervent fan base. There are very few artists with videos that consistently get people’s attention, but Madonna is one of those artists. It’s too early to tell if there’s a true market for video singles. Right now, it seems like record companies are trying video singles to see what happens. I think we’re going to see the lines becoming more blurred in how audio and video singles are marketed.”

Indeed. Within the next five years (and two Madonna video singles later), the emergence of online file sharing would obliterate the physical singles market in North America, and video streaming sites would soon spell an end to the prospect of marketing music video singles as a physical format. In digital form, however, music video singles may be selling in larger numbers than ever due to increased availability through iTunes. Strangely, however, sales of music videos through iTunes are not reported to Billboard and no longer count towards a single’s chart position (reportedly due to iTunes’ monopoly on digital sales of the format), while streams of music videos through sites like YouTube and Vevo are used in Billboard’s chart methodology.

Today in Madonna History: June 22, 2013

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On June 22, 2013, Madonna’s The MDNA Tour aired on EPIX.

You can call her the Queen of Pop or you can call her the Material Girl, but there’s no moniker quite so evocative as simply: Madonna. The seven-time Grammy Award winner returns to the stage in an epic world tour billed as “a journey from darkness to light.” And whether you’re in it for Madonna’s trademark blend of controversial themes and killer dance moves, or simply some delicious pop hooks, you won’t be disappointed.

Today in Madonna History: June 21, 1993

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On June 21 1993, Madonna attended the New York premiere of Sleepless In Seattle. She was joined by her friends Jenny Shimizu, Rosie O’Donnell and her brother Christopher Ciccone.

Today in Madonna History: June 20, 1998

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On June 20 1998, Madonna’s Ray of Light became the #1 dance single on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart. The hit single remained #1 for 4 weeks!

Ray of Light was written by Madonna, William Orbit, Clive Muldoon, Dave Curtiss, Christine Leach, and produced by Madonna and Orbit.  Ray of Light is based on Curtiss Maldoon’s Sepheryn.

“It took a long time to do the album, months. And it wasn’t like we were slacking. We actually did have to work fast, and there were many times when we had to move on. One of Madonna’s favorite phrases was: ‘Don’t gild the lily.’ In other words, keep it rough, and don’t perfect it too much. It’s a natural urge for computer buffs to perfect everything because they can, and we were very wary of that.”

—William Orbit on working with Madonna; Keyboard magazine

Today in Madonna History: June 19, 2012

On June 19 2012, Evita: 15th Anniversary Edition was released on Blu-ray, with the You Must Love Me music video included as a bonus feature.

The music video for You Must Love Me was directed by Alan Parker. Madonna was eight months pregnant (with Lourdes) when the video was shot. Madonna stood behind a piano to conceal her pregnancy during the video shoot.

Today in Madonna History: June 18, 2006

On June 18 2006, Madonna performed a third sold-out Confessions Tour concert at the United Center in Chicago. In total, Madonna performed four completely sold-out shows for 52,000 adoring fans in Chicago, generating $9.2 million in ticket sales.

Tom Young (BBC) had this to say about The Confessions Tour:

“[The show is] a big fat neon light of a pop-dance explosion. There’s a party going on, and unless you were there in the first place, you’re not invited. Whistles and whoops rarely cease and applause ripples throughout building into regular raptures for a consistently first-class performer. It’s almost enough to make those who weren’t there jealous. Almost.”

Today in Madonna History: June 17, 2005

On June 17 2005, Madonna’s official website posted a teaser of Madonna’s forthcoming documentary and revealed its title for the first time – I’m Going To Tell You A Secret.

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