The Business of Beyoncé

I took my time to live my life, but don’t think I’m just his little wife, says Beyoncé in Flawless. And no, she surely is not just Jay-Z’s little wife. Every American knows that Beyoncé Giselle Knowles is a queen. It’s probably even safe to say that she is a goddess. For this multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning artist who has redefined the music industry and become a role model for young teens across the nation, you can't help but wonder: How does she do it? How does Beyoncé be Beyoncé?

Last December, Queen Bey pulled off yet another incredible stunt by releasing a surprise album without a single leak. So astounded by her success, our neighbors over at the Harvard Business School took the liberty of figuring out how she executed such a flawless album release in their recently published case study entitled, Beyonce.

So, how did she do it?

Photo courtesy of Tumblr

Photo courtesy of Tumblr

For starters, Beyoncé is her own boss. She is the CEO of her own company, Parkwood Entertainment, and as the head honcho she is very involved and takes a hands-on approach to all projects. Thus, she had a very clear image for her self-titled album. This included music videos for every song, a strict goal of keeping it a secret and a strong marketing plan.

The most crucial aspect of the release of the album was the strong partnership that Parkwood had with Apple. Beyoncé handed over her set of music videos to Apple at which time they took on full responsibility of preparing for the surprise release through iTunes. “A worldwide launch like this, with music and video content, is something that only iTunes can do,” stated iTunes VP Robert Kondrk. When the clock struck 12, millions of listeners in 119 countries were pleasantly caught by surprise, and in just three days, 828,773 albums had been sold, which was a new record for album sales on iTunes in such a short an amount of time.

The record-breaking sales of the album are not only attributed to the iTunes release, but also to two of the biggest social media platforms on the web: Facebook and Instagram. Facebook and Instagram utilized their strong networks by reaching out to “high-profile concerns” such as other artists, actors and athletes who could help with the big release. In addition to making sure all Facebook users were aware of the album's release, Facebook’s team made sure that everyone saw the music videos through the auto-play feature on everyone’s newsfeed, too.

A crazy, secret album release with outstanding success does not come without its consequences. From a business perspective, this entire event poses questions about the future of album releases, such as what effect the release might have on Beyoncé’s relationship with companies left out of the launch, and with her fans; or, what the success of her self-titled album did to her ability to control her next planned album release. CSOM kids, it’s your time to shine.

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