The better half of one of hip-hop’s most successful artists and entrepreneurs, Beyoncé – also known as Mrs. Carter, Queen Bey, and Sasha Fierce – has successfully awed and astounded her fans this past week by releasing her fifth solo album on December 13, 2013 at 12 am.
Almost unheard of in the music industry, Beyoncé’s self-titled album surprised fans and critics alike because there was NO press about it. Surprisingly, in the digital age of 2013, there is still such a thing as secrecy. No one knew Beyoncé was even making an album, let alone one that would be released in 2013 with 18 videos to accompany the 14 audio tracks. I’m not sure how Beyoncé pulled this off, but hats off to her camp for keeping it tight-lipped.
Beyoncé is available for purchase exclusively on iTunes, and despite having to purchase the whole album in its entirety, it sold 828,773 copies in just three days. In fact, according to an Apple press release, Beyoncé has set a new US record for the most albums sold in the first week.
How did she do it? From a marketing standpoint, I believe she executed three things very well that led to the success of her latest album.
Defy industry norms
Too often, artists and brands get comfortable in going with the flow and following the pack. However, despite the huge risk for defying the norm, the reward can be substantial: as seen in Beyoncé’s case. These risks are the ones that support change and embrace new ideas; they are the start of a new movement, era and way of thinking, which is crucial for staying relevant in the perpetually evolving and technologically advancing world.
Beyoncé’s album release defies everything the music industry knows. Artists spend months promoting their album and releasing singles to entice and excite their audience and fans. Queen Bey, on the other hand, was able to drop her album unexpectedly and is well on her way to debuting at No.1 this week on the Billboard 200.
Not only was there no press surrounding the release of her latest masterpiece, most albums hit the shelves and iTunes on Tuesdays, providing artists with six days of sales in their debut week. However, Beyoncé, in true diva fashion, has topped the charts with just three sales days.
So, yes, while the risk of forgoing album promotion was significant, in taking a leap of faith in the power of her brand, talent and her fans, the risk has and will continue to pay off for the very talented Mrs. Carter. Over the next few weeks, months and years, it’ll be interesting to see if other artists take a play from Queen Bey’s playbook and release surprise albums, with the option to buy only entire albums via iTunes.
I’m inclined to think this move may have been a onetime wonder, but I could be wrong. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Capture the attention of your audience
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: in the ever-changing digital world, to be successful you must capture the attention of your audience. Beyoncé has a loyal fan base. Her fans are the die-hard kind; they love her and everything she stands for. And Beyoncé continually delivers exceptional products, she is the epitome of a professional, and her talent (singing, dancing, and acting included) is off the charts.
In surprising your audience, you increase the reach of your marketing efforts. In our digitally connected, social media crazed world, when you add an element of surprise or shock to your marketing campaign, you can be sure the digital world will be talking about it.
Click on the tweet below to view the activity around the world as the album dropped:
— Twitter Music (@TwitterMusic) December 16, 2013
And according to this Mashable article, 1.2 Million Tweets were generated in 12 hours, and Facebook mentions of “Beyoncé” increased by 1,300% upon the album’s release.
In addition to the surprise factor, the album is flawless. Not only did Beyoncé manage to successfully shock her fans, the product is absolutely perfect. She was able to back up the shock factor with quality substance. Had the album been less than spectacular, we might’ve had a different situation on our hands.
Essentially, a loyal fan base combined with a flawless product and attention-grabbing marketing is a recipe for success; a recipe that Beyoncé has certainly perfected.
Take advantage of video
It’s no secret video is becoming more important in marketing, regardless of industry. Video, much like social media, allows marketers to connect with their audience like never before, and this is no different in the music industry.
Music videos (via MTV, VHI, Fuse, etc.) have always been an integral part of an artists’ success, and while releasing one or two videos per album is the norm, releasing 18 surprise videos (as Beyoncé did), is what makes this move so ingenious.
While this is just one example of her album videos, each one is executed impeccably. Showing off various sides of her personality, this album (songs and videos alike) is more personal than ever before. Not only are some more sexual, but one song and video features her daughter with Jay-Z, Blue Ivy.
Is Beyoncé a marketing genius like Miley Cyrus?
Is that even a question?
But in all seriousness, Beyoncé, much like Miley, is absolutely a marketing genius. Although her shock and awe tactics are slightly tamer, these ladies know how to delight their audience and deliver exceptional products. I’m sure we will all continue to be on the edge of our seats to see how the next musician plans to upstage Miley and Beyoncé, if that’s even possible.