Beyoncé released a surprise self titled album last Thursday via an Instagram video post. There were no billboards, no rumors, no song leaks, no press releases prior to the release of her album. In an music era of excess, where marketing an album has become its own narrative, Beyoncé went the complete opposite direction. But then again, NOT marketing an album is its own marketing statement.
While springing an album on fans is a risky procedure, the unexpectedness played a key role in the albums success. According to Mashable, Beyoncé set a record for 1.2 million tweets within the next 12 hours, and set another record for having 5300 tweets per minute. The album sold 828,773 copies in 3 days, the most of any album this year. Did Beyoncé set a new precedent for marketing? Perhaps not – after all, the novelty of this album was the surprise, and if every musician released an album in this manner, it would lose its luster. Nevertheless, here are four lessons that marketers can take away from Beyoncé:
1. “No Marketing”
2013 revealed the power of surprise in marketing. Especially in a world dominated by 24 hour news cycles, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, there is little left to the imagination. Extraordinary events that knock people off their feet are a rare occurrence as a result, which helps explains the success of “Beyoncé”.
People couldn’t imagine that one of the most popular singers in the world could have such a big project under wraps. This makes Beyoncé an even more powerful figure. Whereas one time, tall buildings and elaborate parties were a sign of power, social media has distorted those symbols. Now, surprise is perhaps the most effective tool in marketing.
2. Using the power of Instagram and Twitter
Beyoncé used three platforms that weren’t even around 15 years ago in Twitter, Instagram, and iTunes to build buzz and sell her album. That may be the biggest symbol of a changing era. And how much do Twitter, Instagram, and iTunes cost consumers? Nothing. All those album says cost virtually nothing for her to market. With the viral nature of those social media platforms, sales beget more sales.
3. iTunes exclusive with album pricing
Another wrinkle for release was its album pricing of $15.99, with no option to download individual songs. It was all or nothing, harkening back to the old days of purchasing entire albums. iTunes also had an exclusive for the first week, driving consumers to the same platform to purchase. The exclusivity showed the power of both iTunes and Beyoncé.
4. Adding Value with Music Videos
In addition to the 14 songs, the album featured 17 videos, one for every song. This made consumers feel like they were getting something more than music, changing the conversation of the purchase. Yes, it was an album, but also a film – both for $15.99, which in hindsight seems like great value. The videos also show Beyoncé as an artist, opening up another lane.