An hour before the television premiere of Beyoncé’s HBO documentary on Sunday, Oprah called the budding icon the “preeminent mistress of the universe” in their exclusive sit-down interview. This ridiculous group of words barely exaggerates Beyoncé’s place in pop culture. Over the past few years, the media has elevated her to the Queen of Pop, in a lane all her own.
Life Is But A Dream is meant to be film about a pop star finding herself. But it also documents a woman the public associates with perfection and power, in the vulnerable position of starting a new phase of her career.
The first topic Beyonce tackles in the film is her professional split from her father and manager Matthew Knowles, a pivotal moment that marks the official beginning of Beyoncé’s career as a mogul. Moguls don’t just make a living. They architect the deals and strategies that build their empire. The fate of Beyoncé, Inc. now rests entirely on the shoulders of its namesake.
Following the March 2011 announcement that she would take over managing her career, Beyonce sounds like any other new entrepreneur, telling MTV:
“My focus is not bigger; it’s quality, and I want to make sure it’s something I’m proud of years from now,” she says later on. “It’s very difficult managing myself. Every night when I go to sleep, I ask hundreds of questions. I’m making mistakes, and I’m learning from them. I’ve never been afraid to fall — and I say all these things, but now I’m being tested.”
The senior Knowles wasn’t just another stage dad. He was a high-level marketing executive at IBM before leaving the company to market his daughter’s career. From the beginning, the infrastructure and the strategy to maximize Beyoncé’s talent for mass consumption was in place.
Beyoncé talks a lot about her artistry in her film’s narration, but her success can be credited just as much to her ability to view herself as a product. Beyoncé isn’t a person for her audience to get to know. She is an experience to be bought and aspired to. She may have been born to entertain, but she was brought up to be a business.
And just like any other new entrepreneur, her time in business has been marked by highs and lows. Here’s a recap of what Beyonce has accomplished since striking out on her own. How do you think she did?
Sales & Income
- “4” is her first album not to go multi-platinum
- Comes in at number 16 on Forbes 2012 “Celebrity 100” list, having earned $40 million in the past year.
- Releases “Run The World (Girls)” as first single from album “4,” igniting a debate on whether Beyonce is good for feminism.
- Announces pregnancy during her performance of “Love On Top” at the 2011 MTV VMAs; breaks the “most tweets per second recorded for a single event” Twitter record and makes the “Love On Top” the highest charting single of the album.
- Settles scandal over pre-recorded vocals for the inauguration by singing the national anthem live at Super Bowl press conference.
- Partners with First Lady Michelle Obama to boost her campaign against child obesity.
- Becomes an ambassador the 2012 World Humanitarian Day campaign; her song “I Was Here” becomes the campaign theme song.
- Partners with Pepsi in $50 million creative development deal; critics believe this deal goes against work with First Lady.
- Receives two nominations at the 54th Grammy Awards; Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Party”, and Best Long Form Music Video for I Am… World Tour
- Receives Millennium Award at the 2011 Billboard Awards
- Wins for Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Love on Top” at the 55th Grammy Awards.
- Takes the stage at New York’s Roseland Ballroom in “4 Intimate Nights with Beyonce.”
- Became the first solo female artist to headline the Pyramid stage at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival in over twenty years.
- Stages “Revel Presents: Beyonce Live” over four nights as a comeback after giving birth
- Sings the national anthem at the second inauguration for President Barack Obama.
- Serves as half-time performance at Super Bowl XLVII.
So the question is: Can we call Beyonce a mogul? How do you define a mogul these days?
C. Cleveland is a freelance writer and content strategist in New York City, perfecting living the fierce life at The Red Read. She is at your service on Twitter (@CleveInTheCity) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed).