MADONNA JOINS NAPSTER ROW

The superstar joins the MP3 debate after one of her new tracks was made available on the controversial website...

Madonna has become the most high-profile artist yet to come down against Napster and MP3 websites after it was revealed that Music, the title track of her new album, not due for release until September, was available to download through the site.

Yesterday (May 31), Warner Bros Records, the parent company of the star’s Maverick Recordings threatened legal action against any site they felt violated Madonna‘s copyright. They said: “Any site that does not remove our copyrighted material runs the risk of civil and criminal prosecution.”

In a separate statement Madonna‘s manager Caresse Norman yesterday told MTV: “The music was stolen and was not intended for release for several months. It is still a work-in-progress. Ultimately those sites that offered a download of Madonna‘s music are violating her rights as an artist.”

It is unclear at present exactly what steps Madonna is likely to take. However, her intervention in the ongoing MP3 debate is significant. As one of the most powerful people in the music industry worldwide she can pack a more influential punch than Metallica, Eminem or any of her fellow anti-Napsters.

Public Enemy’s Chuck D, the most vocal of the pro-Napsters, and the software provider themselves have yet to comment.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that the video for the ‘Music’ single has already been shot in LA by ‘Ray Of Light’ director Jonas Akerlund. It was filmed in April to accommodate Madonna‘s growing pregnant bump.

The track, co-produced by French DJ Mirwais, will also be remixed by British duo Groove Armada. Tom Findlay and Andy Cato are set to take three days off their current three-week US tour to work on the track.

See next week’s issue of NME for a full report on the Napster controversy.