Rolling Stone described her as a musical icon without peer, while RTL Television Belgium said that "Madonna is a key figure in the music". Bill Wyman, editor of Chicago Reader, wrote that she is a "genuinely freakish figure in popular music". According to international media and critics, Madonna is the most influential female recording artist of all time, and the greatest woman in music history.
Her contributions on music are generally praised by critics, which have also been known to induce controversy. Tony Sclafani from company MSNBC felt that her Madonna’s impact and effect on the future direction of music bests The Beatles, even that quarter century after Madonna emerged, artists still use her ideas and seem modern and edgy doing so. Laura Barcella in her book Madonna and Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop (2012) wrote that "really, Madonna changed everything the musical landscape, the '80s look du jour, and most significantly, what a mainstream female pop star could (and couldn't) say, do, or accomplish in the public eye."Similar to Barcella, Joe Levy Blender editor in chief, "opened the door for what women could achieve and were permitted to do".
In the music industry, Madonna was the first female to have complete control of her music and image. Authors noted that before Madonna, records labels determined every step of artists, but she introduced her style and conceptually directed every part of her career; the music industry was the foundation to permanently change the way the record companies treat artists. Journalist Carol Benson wrote that Madonna entered the music business with definite ideas about her image, but it was her track record that enabled her to increase her level of creative control over her music. Many years after, she founded Maverick Records became the most successful "vanity label" in the history of music. While under Madonna's control it generated well over $1 billion for Warner Bros. Records, more money than any other recording artist's record label.
Critics felt in retrospect that Madonna's presence is defined for changing contemporary music history for women's, mainly rock, dance and pop scene. Also, she is cited that open the doors for the future hip-hop explosion and approach to sex to her music. Erin Vargo from online magazine in popular culture, felt that "Madonna has fought for freedom of expression by female artists. Her legacy has paved the way for today’s pop, hip-hop, and rock artists to get into their own groove". The Times stated: "Madonna, whether you like her or not, started a revolution amongst women in music ... Her attitudes and opinions on sex, nudity, style and sexuality forced the public to sit up and take notice". The New York Post writer Brian Niemietz, who found that Madonna revolutionized dance music much the same way Elvis Presleyinvented gospel and rock and roll.
Madonna is a pop star icon. She is the first multimedia figure in the history of popular culture. Peter Robinson from The Guardian felt that "Madonna pretty much invented contemporary pop fame so there is a little bit of her in the DNA of every modern pop thing". Rolling Stone of Spain wrote that "Madonna became the first viral Master of Pop on history, years before the Internet was massively used." Madonna was everywhere; in the almighty music television channels, 'radio formulas', magazine covers and even in bookshops. A pop dialectic, never seen since The Beatles's reign, which allowed her to keep on the edge of tendency and commerciality". Also, Caryn Ganz from the same magazine wrote that "Madonna is the most media-savvy American pop star since Bob Dylan and, until she toned down her press-baiting behavior in the nineties, she was the most consistently controversial one since Elvis Presley. Music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine felt that "one of Madonna's greatest achievements is how she has manipulated the media and the public with her music, her videos, her publicity, and her sexuality".Becky Johnston from Interview magazine commented: "[F]ew public figures are such wizards at manipulating the press and cultivating publicity as Madonna is. She has always been a great tease with journalists, brash and outspoken when the occasion demanded it, recalcitrant and taciturn when it came time to pull back and slow down the striptease".
Academic Becca Cragin explain that "Madonna has managed to hold the public's attention for 30 years now, in large part because of her skillful use of the visual in expressing herself and marketing her music". French academic Georges-Claudes Guillbert wrote that taking some elements and transforms them into commercial products. Cultural critic, Douglas Kellner explained that Madonna's popularity also requires focus on audiences, not just as individuals, but as members of specific groups. Journalist Mark Watts felt that the rise and (perceived) decline of Madonna has gone, so to say, hand-in-hand with that of postmodern theory.According to journalist Annalee Newitz, "the academics in the fields of theology to queer studies have written literally volumes about what Madonna's fame means for gender relations, American culture, and the future". As Newitz, author in Images of women in American popular culture (1995) said that Madonna had reached such staggering celebrity that scholarly and popular assessments of the meaning of her work for the future of feminism, for the sexual values of the young. In this way, many authors, including Alvin Hall and Matthew Rettenmund (Encyclopedia Madonnica; 1995), agree that Madonna is "the world's greatest artist" while others classify her as "the most powerful celebrity or famous woman in the world". Music editor Bill Friskics-Warren wrote that "Madonna's megastardom and cultural ubiquity had made her as much a social construct as anything else, a "person-turned-idea," as Steve Anderson put it, along the iconic lines of Elvis Presley or Marilyn Monroe".