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Photo via Beyonce’s Instagram.
It’s been almost a month since Beyonce shut down the Internet by releasing an album without having told anyone beforehand. Coined a “visual album,” Beyonce was released to iTunes exclusively and sold over 600,000 copies in 3 days, blowing recent releases by Lady Gaga and Britney Spears out of the water. I’d like to examine a few pieces of this story.
Lack of Promotion
Beyonce has been traveling the world on the Mrs. Carter tour, has dropped a few singles over the year, but it was known that she had recorded material for a new album. The assumption was that the album would release in 2014. Instead, it turned out that Beyonce had written something like 100 songs, chosen the album tracks, and proceeded to film videos for every song on the album all over the world during the span of her tour. Brilliant and sneaky. Beyonce has been quite active on Instagram, keeping in touch with the fans and giving them a glimpse of her personal life, and dropped the news of her new album on Instagram and set it all on fire. After it became available, 80k copies had sold in 3 hours.
The genius of this is that no, Beyonce’s album isn’t a lifechanger, but the entire plan was based on the fact that she is a huge star, people love her, and since they knew NOTHING about the album, everyone went online and bought it immediately to participate in the event that the album became. Britney and Gaga released tons of songs from the albums before they were released, and since they were not that impressive, sales were not there to match. No one had time to find out if Beyonce’s album sucked before they were buying it to join in on the excitement.
Beyonce vs Target
Due to the secretive nature of the project, they didn’t start physical production of the album until very late in the timeline. The album had been available online for a few days already and Target refused to carry it, stating that the exclusivity to iTunes at the start would hinder sales of the physical CD. This was really dumb on their part.
- Beyonce went to Walmart, which was selling the album, and gave out gift cards and made people’s days and made herself a lovely news story.
- Hello, Target, people who still watch the news and aren’t living their life on the Internet (they do exist), would totally pick up and buy the new Beyonce if they saw it in the store. That you refused to buy this album that had the biggest hype of any album release in AGES was a huge miss.
Content Video is King
The release of music videos for every song was designed for the age of the Internet. Tumblr is HUGE, and it’s all about sharing images and video. The Beyonce videos aren’t all massive productions with huge budgets, but that isn’t the point. They all feature Beyonce. Beyonce is the star. Done and done.
Changing the Game
According to a post on https://www.yesgamers.com, Beyonce’s surprise release, as well as the format of songs + videos from the jump, is a different approach to the new music world we are living in. Spotify can’t show you videos, so you go buy the album on iTunes. You haven’t streamed the whole album yet on a music website, so you go buy the album on iTunes. All of these tactics that are the new normal were ignored for a bombshell approach that no one was expecting, and it worked like a charm.
The album sold over one million copies in 6 days. For everyone who said album sales were over, Beyonce just changed the game.