Did Beyonce Just Change The Way Music Is Released With Her New Visual Album?

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December 13, 2013 ‐ By
beyonce visual album

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The internet (and the MadameNoire office) absolutely lost its mind over the news that Beyonce released an entire album — complete with a music video for each of its 14 songs — unexpectedly and without notice.

Her fifth and self-titled album was made available in the middle of the night after months of speculation about when new material would be complete, and months of howling from fans about the long lull between albums. (Her last record, “4,” came out in 2011.) For $16, you can head over to iTunes and quench that Queen Bey thirst now.

While we thought she was just touring and vacationing around the world, Beyonce was actually hard at work — collaborating with hubby Jay Z, Frank Ocean, Drake, even her little one Blue Ivy. Commenting in a video clip that accompanied the release, Bey says:

It’s so much that gets between the music and the art and the fans. I felt like, I don’t want anybody to get the message, when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready and from me to my fans.

According to Billboard, there were hints that an album would be coming before year’s end, but no definites. At a time when we hear news from around the world within seconds, that one of the most famous women in the world could keep a secret this huge until the album was out there is a huge feat.

But it’s also way different from the way that albums, movies, or even the re-introduction of Twinkies would normally be handled. Let’s take Lady Gaga’s “ArtPop” album or Kanye’s “Yeezus” as examples. These two records were accompanied by global art installations — Kanye projecting the “New Slaves” video on buildings around the world and Lady Gaga partnering with Jeff Koons on the cover art, a Brooklyn art show, and working with Marina Abramovic as a prelude.

Of course, they aren’t the only ones crowing about upcoming releases. Movies get months of promotion, with films like American Hustle getting nominated for huge industry awards like the Golden Globes weeks before moviegoers can even buy a ticket. Film trailers come out a year in advance.

And how much do we hear about the day an album will “drop” before it actually lands?

With no advanced notice, Beyonce is trending on Twitter (along with “Blue Ivy” and #QueenBey”), has media covering the celebrity reactions to the album, and has fans waking up their friends and spending that cash without blinking an eye. It’s basically a pre-Christmas gift. But instead of fans running to their Christmas trees to get their gift, they’re running to the internet to download it.

It says something about the power of silence and surprise. As Bey says, music executives, elaborate marketing campaigns, and the mad scramble for a concert ticket typically make so much noise, whipping people into a frenzy while also keeping them at arm’s length. She simply pushed it out on the web and let people know it was there. Not through some fake “leak,” but a genuine album release. Come one, come all. Have your fill of all of it.

Clearly, Beyonce has an advantage. But, other stars also have a dedicated fan base that would be online within moments for their new material. Sure, it’s not entirely gimmick-free; a “surprise” album is a marketing ploy in and of itself. But it’s a low-key one that doesn’t require a ton of stuff to generate hype. It’s probably also a cost-saver for labels that have seen dwindling album sales eat into their profits. They’re looking for ways to save money, and a lower marketing cost could be a great way to do that.

Going forward, something tells us we’re going to start seeing many more albums come out this way. Don’t be shocked if we’re waking up to new music delivered to us on Instagram and iTunes more frequently in 2014.

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  • brianc6234

    The only reason to release an album this way is if the album is garbage. Beyonce’s songs are boring. She has to make videos and try to make people not notice how boring the songs are. This secret release was just more hype by Beyonce and Jay Z.

  • Keland

    Not at all.

  • yep

    great strategy and not all of the songs are bad ya’ll tripping. I don’t know too many artists who have a hit on every single song anyway

  • provokethought

    I heard some of her songs and it was hard to get through some of them. I am not hating, she is a beautiful woman but I got lost in some of her lyrics and beats to her music. It sounded as if she was “trying” too hard. I am sure her videos for the songs are over the top to make up for what is lacking in her music.

  • Aaliyah Noelle

    people really think beyonce dumb? this lady gotta be one of the smartest

  • hmmm

    This won’t change anything because the average artist, even established ones, cannot afford to do this. She is just the kind of artist who is big enough to pull this off. You have to have buildup and promotion to rally fans and casual folks. Personally I think this has a lot to do with the fact that the few songs that have leaked have not been well received or turned into hits – so there was nothing to promote or push it. Just dropping it out there made sense because she had to do something different – not to mention the fact that there are tons of women in the field now doing really well. This is going to peak quickly, just like when people charge a dollar for an album and then the sales plummet. I don’t see too many people outside of her core base going crazy over this. No shade … I’m just saying.

  • Guest

    Saving my $16 for something better, not hating so don’t you stans come for me.

  • slimpickens2916

    Stunning album and videos!

  • Just saying!!

    No I don’t think so, or at least I hope not. This was a fantastic marketing ploy (especially since its the Holidays when people are spending their money) but I certainly wouldn’t want it to be an all the time thing. I think if we rely too much on videos (which we already kind of do). The music will suffer (which it already is). I love Bey and all, but one thing I’ve always noticed is that when a song isn’t good, she’ll try to make up for it through an awesome video/performance. Nothing is wrong with that once and a while but it shouldn’t be the norm. Plus, I feel like releasing everything at once makes it easier for people to get sick of it quicker. Everyone obsesses over all the songs, videos for the next few weeks and now they are looking for the next thing. Sometimes it’s nice to spread it out and tease people to keep the momentum going lol. But this was an excellent strategy and will certainly bring her a lot of sales, which I’m certain was part of the goal.

    • Just saying!!

      Then again I realized you’re not focusing on the video part, my bad! Lol yea aside from the video part this could really work. It has its advantages and disadvantages (like people getting sick of it quicker like I said). But in terms of record sales, that’s golden!

    • Ceri

      It was a different move for releasing an album but It’s also not the best either. Judging from the songs and videos, it’s all garbage. So, she created an overhype and keep people talking while this garbage of album is ignored. for example, she knows how critics comes after her, so she avoided any type of criticism. I think bey is talented but she’s yet to put out a “wow” factor effect. Yeah, she’s sold millions of copies, rich, won f
      Grammys and sold hundreds in three hours bcos she has some loyal fans regardless of what she does. She’s lyrically incompetent, immature her songs sounds like what willow smith will sing. And now, she’s more sexually provocative, sounds like Kesha. Her creativity is limited. It shows the empty vacuum in the music industry if the media are overrating this album..