One upbeat song ready for the radio. Album title and release date with lots of notifications. a magazine cover storyfollowed by a personal mission statement, new social media account, detailed track list, and pre-sale merchandise.
For most musicians, these are the time-honoured points in the game’s handbook for introducing a major new album. But for Beyoncé, who has spent the past decade and more changing all conventions on how to market music, the release of Renaissance, her newest album on Friday, is a stunning turnaround — and perhaps an tacit acknowledgment that the game has changed.
Before “Renaissance,” Beyoncé’s seventh solo album, the last time the singer took such small, industry-standard strides, at No. 4 in 2011, President Barack Obama was still in his first term and a startup European music company called Spotify, He had just arrived in the United States. Since then, there hasn’t been much about the new music selling formula that Beyoncé hasn’t completely tweaked, disrupted, or deconstructed.
was there first “Beyonce” The paradigm-shifting “Visual Album” of 2013. Then came “Lemonade” (2016), a tour full of references receipt With more mystery as a movie on cable TV. By partnering closely with Tidal, the streaming service controlled by her husband, Jay-Z, and with media giants such as HBO, Disney and Netflix, Beyoncé has positioned one ambitious multimedia project after another as something to be researched and carefully considered, rather than presented. For easy access and maximum consumption.
This work, and the innovative way in which it was released, helped Beyoncé to rise in her artistic stature. However, it has also served to distance the singer somewhat from mainstream pop music, as her material has been isolated – the album “Lemonade” wasn’t widely available on major streaming platforms until three years after its initial release, while his movie Full is currently only on the tide – and may hamper its commercial performance.
Beyoncé’s last number-one single as a lead artist, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”, came in late 2008. Despite the fact that her 28 Grammy Awards make her the most winning woman in music, she hasn’t won any award. In a major category since 2010. The radio play of its new solo releases has declined significantly since “4.” And although her six solo albums have all gone to number one, in between projects like “Everything Is Love” (a Surprise joint album with Jay-Z), and Soundtrack for “The Lion King” And her concert album “Homecoming” All of them failed to reach the top.
However, Beyoncé’s paradox means that even as she slipped somewhat off the charts, her greater cultural standing remained sublime, driven by the mystery and grandeur she brings to every project. (“My Success Can’t Be Measurable,” she sang on the song “Nice” from 2018, mocking the importance of “flowing numbers.”)
“She continues to be a cultural leader, regardless of the relatively small data points in her world such as album sales and radio theatre,” he said. Daniel Smitha veteran music journalist and modern author “Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop Music.”
“There are people out there in this world to change the culture, to change the atmosphere,” she said in an interview. “It’s somewhat important, singles, albums or radio plays, but what really matters is that they make us look in a new direction.”
But from the very beginning, the release of “Renaissance” was different – more transparent, more traditional. Recipe by Beyoncé, 40, in Instagram share Last month as “a place without perfection and overthinking,” the album was set up to educate consumers and excite fans, with four different packages packaged and a limited-edition vinyl already sold out on the singer’s website.
“She and her representative realize that things have changed since the release of her last album, and they have to go full press,” said Rob Jonas, CEO of Luminate, the music data service behind the Billboard charts.
A major risk to the old release strategy — requiring physical copies of the album to be produced before too long — surfaced on Wednesday, when “Renaissance” appeared to have leaked entirely online. Fan accounts on social media forecast That the unofficial early version could have come from CDs that were prematurely sold in Europe.
Immediately, Beyoncé’s famous protective base, known as BeyHive, jumped into action, seeking to discourage early listeners and join together to report those spreading the illegal law.
While pre-leaks for major albums were common as the era of CD gave way to digital downloads, and could wreck prospects for a new album, the crackdown on digital piracy and the shift to the first broadcast model — along with surprise releases like Beyoncé — has had a huge impact. Reduce this threat.
The last time Beyoncé had a major leak was with the number “4” in 2011, when I told the listeners, “Although I did not want to present my new songs in this way, I appreciate the positive response from my fans.” (Representatives of Beyoncé and her companies declined to comment on her release strategy, nor did they immediately respond to questions about the leak.)
Behind the scenes the luxury of advance notice – Hallelujah! An early promotional song can give industry gatekeepers, such as radio stations and broadcast services, the runway to participate before the album is released.
“Having anything before you land is a gift,” said Michael Martin, senior vice president of programming at Audacy, which operates more than 230 radio stations across the country. “When you have time to prepare, you can be a better marketing partner with artist, label and management. You can have everything ready to be pushed the moment the project hits the ecosystem. That’s what you want. You don’t want to scramble.”
“break my soul“A return to the dance music of the ’90s and the first single from ‘Renaissance’, released over a month ago. With 57 million broadcasts and 61,000 radio cycles in the United States, according to Luminate, the song is currently at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100.” its peak so far and only the third time Beyoncé has reached the top 10 in the past decade as a lead artist. (Her two most recent guest chart photos came: “Perfect Duet” with Ed Sheeran, in 2017, and “Savage Remix” with Megan Thee Stallion , in 2020.)
However, as with most things Beyoncé, commercial and artistic artists can work side by side. Smith said preparations for the “Renaissance” release were matched by his pesky old gems — for example, the particular interest in glossy vinyl album packaging, which is once again becoming Combinations of large tent versions.
“Once I realized that Beyoncé was backing down a little bit, both musically and artistically, with her voice and hints, then the subtraction started to make sense to me,” Smith said. “They are all very dead.”
Another major recent development is Beyoncé Access to TikTokis the home of compact, sharable videos that have been one of the most reliable motivators for music hits for at least three years now, as well as a promotional platform for younger stars like Lizzo and Cardi B.
This month, Beyoncé’s official account posted its first TikToks — a montage of fans, including Cardi, dancing to Break My Soul, followed by vinyl artwork for “Renaissance” — and the singer recently made her The entire music catalog Available to record user-generated videos on the platform.
Jonas, of Luminate, said the short videos lead to “increased awareness and ultimate consumption.” “We have a clear line of sight on this.” Even before her participation, Beyoncé’s songs like Savage Remix and “Younes” It thrived on TikTok.
Whether or not the live release of “Renaissance” marks a return to total pop control for Beyoncé, there’s still a chance she’ll have more moves to make. After all, the singer teased the album as “Act I,” suggesting that it could just be part of a bigger project.
“Everything looks like it’s playing by the rules now,” said Jonas. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some deviation that we are not aware of yet.”
Smith said part of Beyoncé’s cultural mastery has included the ability to make herself scarce at certain moments and then again become the center of everything when she chooses. “At this point, you’re letting in air for others, but that’s as you see fit,” Smith said. “Her total impact – how she moves, and what she wears – is unparalleled.”
She added, “I think if Beyoncé wakes up and decides, at 42 or 45 or 50, she wants to rule the culture across all the data points.” And the The effect then she can—like Cher before her, like Tina Turner before her—really without breaking a sweat.”