Music Article

Immaterial Girl

See how Madonna made music history. She's the first artist ever to make the singles chart strictly with Internet sales

Madonna | SINGLE FEMALE Madge made online moolah on ''American Life''
Image credit: Madonna: Armando Gallo/Retna
SINGLE FEMALE Madge made online moolah on ''American Life''

A top-10 debut for a new Madonna single wouldn't usually be surprising. But by landing at No. 4 on Billboard's singles sales chart this week, the eponymous first single from her April 22 ''American Life'' album has made history: It's the first song ever to chart based on Internet sales alone. Starting last week, the song was available as a digital download for $1.50 on Madonna.com and participating fansites, as well as on online subscription services like Rhapsody. No physical copy was released of the song, which continues in the techno-fied dance-pop vein of her last album, 2000's ''Music.'' It also includes Madonna's first attempt at rapping (unless you count ''Vogue''): ''I do yoga and Pilates/ And the room is full of hotties,'' she rhymes.

''The reason we made the single available was to offer an easy and efficient alternative to illegal downloading,'' Madonna's manager, Caresse Henry, said in a statement released to EW.com. ''We are happy it has been so successful and this will hopefully inspire other artists to do the same.'' Despite its high chart position, however, the song only sold about 4,000 copies -- a sign of the weak market for singles (the No. 1 seller, Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow's ''Picture,'' cleared about 15,000 copies). At $1.50 a pop, the experiment grossed about $6,000 -- certainly not the kind of cash that could sustain Madonna's American (or British) lifestyle.

Here's the full track listing for the "American Life'' album:

1. ''American Life''
2. ''Hollywood''
3. ''I’m So Stupid''
4. ''Love Profusion''
5. ''Nobody Knows Me''
6. ''Nothing Fails''
7. ''Intervention''
8. ''X-Static Process''
9. ''Mother and Father''
10. ''Die Another Day''
11. ''Easy Ride''

Originally posted Mar 28, 2003