Madonna turning 50 with world tour on her mind

Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:29pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Madonna won't have much time to fret about turning 50. While many people passing the milestone may prefer to pause and reflect, the "queen of pop" is in the midst of final preparations for her world tour which kicks off in Cardiff, Wales, on August 23, a week after her birthday.

If previous shows are anything to go by, the 40-plus "Sticky & Sweet" dates around the globe will put Madonna under the kind of physical and mental strain that would test a woman half her age.

But the world's most successful female recording artist has never let age, sex or background get in her way, and has remained in the ascendancy with an uncanny ability to reinvent herself just when the old Madonna was nearing her sell-by date.

Her latest reincarnation is a shrewd businesswoman, after she severed ties with long-term record label Warner Brothers to sign up with Live Nation, a company that until recently specialized in music tours.

As well as earning a reported $120 million over the life of the agreement, Madonna appeared to be among the first to recognize which way the music industry was heading.

Recorded music, many artists now believe, is making them less money than live performing, meaning they are looking to spend less time in the recording studio and more on the stage.

The last few years have not all been easy for Madonna, however.

A celebrity who often bristles in the media glare, Madonna may be universally admired but she is not universally loved.   Continued...

<p>Singer Madonna performs at a concert to celebrate the launch of her new album "Hard Candy" in New York, April 30, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>