Beyonce’s Brave New World

A tiny bit more than 15 years ago Google did not exist.  In it’s relatively short life it has helped revolutionized the world of advertising.  Specifically, it has helped get people used to the idea that they could pay nothing for relatively high quality internet and software services if they were just willing to put up with a few ads on their screens.  This had the significant side effect of shutting down thousands of newspapers and cutting print media advertisement in half between 2006 and 2011.

The internet is a disruptive technology.  It has completely change the way we travel, wiping out most travel agencies.  It has eliminated most video rental stores and is well on its way to closing most of the countries book stores.  Music stores are shutting down and tremendous revenues have been lost by artists (but mostly record labels) due to people sharing music online.

Disruptive Beyonce

Disruptive Beyonce

Beyonce is joining the digital disruption revolution with her newest self titled album.  Instead of buying a bunch of print advertising, lining up talk show presentations, pre-releasing a hit single on the radio, having a huge release party and partnering with big retail brands, she turned to the internet to promote her album which released on Dec 12.  The totality of her promotion was a tweet which said “Surprise” and the release for the full album and 17 videos on iTunes.  In the first week it sold 1 million copies on iTunes, where it debuted as number 1.

When asked why she had moved away from classical promotion formats, she replied “I am bored with that.”  But what is also true, is that if you can get away with this type of release, with your fans doing the promotion over social media, you can save millions in conventional display advertising by crowd sourcing.  And for the first week of sales for this album, you had to buy the entire album, rather than cherry picking songs you like.  In a country which seems to have no patience, this also significantly increases revenues over the ala carte approach.

Is Beyonce exempt from the promotional laws of gravity - or can everyone fly?

Is only Beyonce exempt from the promotional laws of gravity – or can everyone fly?

CNN and the NY Times believe that only an artist as big as Beyonce could pull this off.  She has 7 million Instagram followers and 54 million likes on her new album.  And what is true is that this unhyped album had significantly higher first day and first week sales than her previous album which used a more convention sales approach.  And we can certainly expect to see other bands with loyal fans try to dodge conventional promotion strategies by trying this disruptive approach.

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found on Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

5 responses to “Beyonce’s Brave New World”

  1. Nonny says :

    It doesn’t seem that disruptive, since the way she got popular enough to be able to do this was by using all the conventional methods and expenses that you described.

    • paxus says :

      oh i am quite convinced if you were to talk with record company executives and the folks at Target who are not carrying her album because it went to iTunes before them, they would say she is quite disruptive. Perhaps not in the past, but today.

      • Nonny says :

        Maybe I just don’t understand what rises to the level of “disruption.” A conventionally popular celebrity has chosen to use one company instead of another for a particular campaign. That just sounds like business/competition as usual, more than “disruptive technology.”

        She just as well could’ve gone with the record company digitally or Target digitally, which would have cost her more money but otherwise have been an internet approach. So, she’s gone with who’s charging her the least.

        And Twitter could choose to charge her for reaching so many followers (akin to what Facebook already does, and for all I know, Twitter does something like it already, too). In fact I would bet on Twitter moving that way if they haven’t already. Then it gets more like “meet the new boss…”

        The internet is definitely changing things – I’m just thinking that this example isn’t completely an example of that. Anyone can publish online, but to actually be found and seen, that’s still a negotiation with big players.

      • paxus says :

        i am not a music industry person, but what i read about it from the MSM made me think this was more than just switching companies to minimize cost. There is a conventional wisdom about how to successfully launch a new album, because the success of an album, especially the early sales, reviews and airplay are linked whether the artist is doing well – this process is well studied and quite expensive.

        Beyonce (who is certainly already well known) did not just “use on company instead of another”. What the NY Times said was “The stealth rollout of the album, “Beyoncé,” upended the music industry’s conventional wisdom, and was a smashing success.” That sounds disruptive to me. But i get that you disagree.

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