Madonna has accused BBC Radio 1 of "ageism" after a programmer for the station stated they would not broadcast the singer's new single "Living for Love" in an effort to lower the demographic of its audience. Madonna, who called the station's decision "discriminatory and unfair," told The Sun, "I was like, 'Wait a second. Shouldn't it have to do with whether you wrote a good, catchy pop song?'"
"My manager said to me, 'If you're not in your twenties, it's hard. You might get your record played in your thirties. There's a handful of people who do - Pharrell got lucky. But if you're in your fifties, you can forget it'," Madonna said. "I didn't know it was anything to do with my age. I just do my work. We've made so many advances in other areas - civil rights, gay rights - but ageism is still an area that's taboo and not talked about and dealt with."
While the BBC initially dismissed the notion that Madonna's age had anything to do with the Rebel Heart track being left off the station's playlist — "An artist's age is never a factor," the BBC said in a statement — Radio 1's head of music George Ergatoudis was more frank in his comments regarding the "ban" of Madonna's music.
"The BBC Trust have asked us to go after a young audience. We've got to concentrate on [people aged] 15-30. We have to bring our average age down. That's something we're very conscious of," Ergatoudis said (via the BBC). "The vast majority of people who like Madonna, who like her music now, are over 30 and frankly, we've moved on from Madonna." The BBC also points out that Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney, two artists well north of the audience's key demographic, are both currently on Radio 1's playlist (in the latter's case, for Rihanna's "FourFiveSeconds").
As a show of support for Madonna, DJ Annie Mac, who took over Zane Lowe's tastemaking spot on BBC Radio 1, played "Living for Love" during her handpicked block. The single does also appear on the BBC Radio 2 playlist because, as the BBC points out, that station caters to an "older audience."
In her recent Rolling Stone cover story, Madonna spoke at length about ageism in both pop culture and society. "It's still the one area where you can totally discriminate against somebody and talk shit. Because of their age," she said. "Only females, though. Not males. So in that respect we still live in a very sexist society."
"No one would dare to say a degrading remark about being black or dare to say a degrading remark on Instagram about someone being gay," Madonna continued. "But my age – anybody and everybody would say something degrading to me. And I always think to myself, why is that accepted? What's the difference between that and racism, or any discrimination? They're judging me by my age. I don't understand. I'm trying to get my head around it. Because women, generally, when they reach a certain age, have accepted that they're not allowed to behave a certain way. But I don't follow the rules. I never did, and I'm not going to start."
Thankfully, Madonna and American radio have a much healthier relationship: The singer recently stopped by Howard Stern's SiriusXM show for an in-depth, intimate interview, and Madonna will also perform at this year's iHeartRadio Music Awards, an event staged by one of the industry's biggest radio conglomerates.