Madonna on how “influential” people asked her for “sexual favours” in her early days: “I couldn’t bring myself to do it”

"Ironically, I was signed by a gay man who didn’t want anything to do with me in that way and he just really appreciated my music.”

Madonna has spoken of how a lot of “influential” people within the music industry would ask her for sexual favours in exchange for helping her out in her early career.

The iconic singer, who this week releases her acclaimed new album ‘Madame X‘, was speaking to NME for this week’s Big Read when she opened up about how music industry people would approach her inappropriately when she was first starting her career – but she stuck to her principles.

“I would say there were plenty of situations where men were wanting to abuse their power,” Madonna told NME. “I was the starting-out artist begging for help and I would go to people who ran labels or influential DJs saying: ‘Can you help me out? Can you listen to this song? Can you hook me up?’ Can you sign me to your record label?’ and, a lot of people said: ‘Yeah, if you’ll do this,’ and usually it was a sexual favour.”

On if they asked explicitly, Madonna replied: “Oh yeah, for sure. And there was one time where I was so broke and I was so sick of being broke I thought, ‘Wait, could I do it?’ But I didn’t do it in the end. I couldn’t.

“I couldn’t bring myself to do it because I knew I couldn’t look myself in the mirror if I did, so I just kept going on as I had, being a starving artist and waiting for my ship to come in and – ironically – I was signed by a gay man who didn’t want anything to do with me in that way and he just really appreciated my music.”

Read the NME’s full Big Read cover feature with Madonna here. 

Madonna’s new album ‘Madame X’ is out now.

“For the first time since ‘Confessions on a Dance Floor’, perhaps, there’s a glint in Madonna’s eye; her visible, un-eyepatched one, at least,” read the NME review. “Sonically restless, ‘Madame X’ doesn’t imitate current pop trends as much as it mangles them into new shapes. A record that grapples with being “just way too much”, ultimately, it refuses to tone things down.”

Madonna returns to the UK for a run of tour dates in 2020.