It all started with deleted profile pictures on social media, sparking rumors of an impending comeback. Then an announcement, in white letters on a black background, excited Beyoncé fans and the media: the American singer will unveil a new album on July 29. The surprise lies not in the release of this first single in six years, but in the fact that it was preceded by the first single, break my soulPosted on June 20. Because until now, Queen Bay has been used to saying as little as possible about his projects.
In 2013, she caused a small earthquake by releasing her fourth album in the middle of the night, without warning. At the time, the artists did so much upstream promotion, with giant poster campaigns in Times Square, interviews, and photos, that the public was warned before the release, Kivan Javadzadeh is a lecturer in media and communication sciences at Paris 8 University. Beyoncé took the exact opposite of this strategy, with what many considered a form of artistic and commercial emancipation.
The singer herself is aware of this desire to “break codes”.. “There are a lot of things that overlap between music and the artist and his fans, Justified at that time, in a press release quoted The New York Times*. I didn’t want anyone to announce when my album would be released. I just wanted it to be unveiled when it was ready, by me and my fans.” The content of this album of the same name is unexpected: 14 tracks, but also 17 videos.
with this “Visual album”Queen Bey shows that she is “He takes seriously the tipping point taken with the explosion of audio and video streaming, at a time when physical CD sales are collapsing”Judge Kivan Javadzadeh, author of Hot, cold and sinister. Gender, Race, and Gender in American Rap (Amsterdam Publishing, 2021). And the ramifications aren’t just commercial: The star is driving the American music industry into a remarkable development, according to Vox*. Album release day, which is usually set as Tuesday in the US, is shifted to Friday, which is the day Beyonce.
“Nowadays, other artists are directing their projects or producing ‘visual albums.’ But in 2013, that wasn’t the norm. Beyoncé partly started these trends.”Kevan Javadzadeh, Researcher
This good marketing move pays off very quickly: Beyonce Sells 600,000 copies in one weekend, according to The Week*. “While individuals account for the majority of pop music sales, the album is being presented to fans as a complete multimedia work that must be purchased entirely for $16.”emphasize The New York Times. Tour de force became more successful because the authoring was initially only available on iTunes, Apple’s platform: to avoid any leaks, Columbia decided to wait until it was put online to start producing CDs. He’s never seen one like him.
Three years later, Beyoncé uses the same recipe Lemonade. This time around, the surprise album is accompanied by an hour-long movie and is initially available only on Tidal, husband Jay-Z’s streaming platform. The song Queen Bey has won critical acclaim and sets itself, in passing, new records: 12 songs simultaneously appear in the Hot 100 rating of the most popular songs of the specialty magazine painting* He sold 653,000 albums in one weekend.
While the illegal downloading of music has almost disappeared thanks to the rise of streaming platforms, Lemonade Hacking relaunches, raises pitchfork*. The album’s very limited availability arouses public curiosity and enthusiasm.
But to ensure her longevity, Beyoncé needs to expand her following, who are called “Beyhive”. This is the interest of the partnerships that the singer forges with platforms such as Netflix and Disney +. The first broadcast a documentary about his concert in Coachella, Homecoming. The second was supposed to sign a $100 million contract with Beyoncé, including notably the exclusivity of her music movie. black is kingAccording to the magazine she*.
“These partnerships are mutually profitable: Netflix and Disney bring diversity to their catalogs; Beyoncé makes her music available at all times to an audience that may not necessarily know it.”Kevan Javadzadeh, Researcher
Broadcast appearances were mostly unfavorable to artists in terms of pay. But “Queen Bey” managed to withdraw from the game with these lucrative contracts, which allow him to diversify his sources of income. Unexpected financial gains are especially welcome when the pandemic has halted tours, which make up the bulk of the singers’ income. However, not all artists have this kind of opportunity. “Demonstrates the special stature and weight that Beyoncé enjoys in the music industry”the researcher insists.
Beyoncé is “detached,” and this is also noticeable in her long periods of silence. His rare interviews published in fashion magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar* And the Vogue magazine*, spaced about 1 year apart. And if her Instagram account is regularly enriched with new posts, then the singer has not tweeted since May 2020, without this affecting her bad reputation.
These very rare contacts (illustrating the star’s constant need to control her image) also contribute to creating enthusiasm. “The majority of stars express themselves a lot, in the media and especially on social networks. Beyoncé uses her accounts to promote her projects but reveals very little about her private life”, Notes Kevan Javadzadeh.
To the researcher, this is exactly this character “inaccessible” allowing Americans “To emerge as a symbol of popular culture”. “It is a form of celebrity that we thought was outdated, even doomed to disappearhe explains. But by refusing to comply with these new patterns of communication, Beyoncé is showing that she is not like the others.”
with New birthOnce again, Beyoncé is striving to be where she was completely unexpected. And so the singer returned to a more traditional communication strategy: one-on-one interviews and advertisements in the press.. “Today, putting a project online without advertising it is a lot less creative than it was in 2013: everyone is doing it. By taking the opposite view of this approach, Beyoncé has finally been able to differentiate herself from other artists.”thought Kivan Javadzadeh.
“It’s in an intermediate position: the ads remain ambiguous, creating a game with fans who don’t know exactly what to expect.”Kevan Javadzadeh, Researcher
This small dose of mystery has worked well so far. A month before the release New birthFour chests have been placed on Beyoncé’s website. Sold for $40, each contains a coil “collector fund”, T-shirt and … CD. In the age of “everything digital,” the pop star is returning to a physical form that is in the process of breaking down. Friday, June 24, the four chests were already out of stock, while we know nothing about the design of the T-shirts they contain.
This marketing strategy isn’t revolutionary: many other artists are offering their music with a premium and limited CD release, from K-pop group BTS to French rapper Orelsan. “TheThe public buys these boxes above all for the T-shirt. But for artists, this is often a way to increase sales numbers.” According to Kevan Javadzadeh. Will this strategy allow Beyoncé to break new records with this sixth solo album? Reply on July 29th. Sure, by then, new surprises to keep “Beyhive” waiting.
* Links marked with asterisks indicate content in English.