Beyoncé's marketing recipe to sell more albums

Beyoncé’s marketing recipe to sell more albums

It all started with deleted profile pictures on social media, which sparked rumors of an imminent comeback. Then an announcement, in white letters on a black background, ignited Beyoncé fans and the media: the American singer will unveil a new album on July 29. The surprise lies not so much in the release of this first solo opus in six years, but in the fact that it is preceded by a first single, Break My Soul, posted June 20. Because “Queen Bey” had until now accustomed us to say as little as possible about his projects.

In 2013, she had created a small earthquake by releasing her fourth album in the middle of the night, without warning. “At that time, the artists did a lot of promotion upstream, with giant poster campaigns in Times Square, interviews, photos, so that the public was warned before a release, recalls Keivan Djavadzadeh, lecturer in information and communication sciences at the University of Paris 8. Beyoncé had taken the total opposite of this strategy, with what many perceived as a form of artistic and commercial emancipation.

The singer herself recognizes this desire to “break the codes”. “There are so many things that interfere between the music, the artist and his fans, she justified at the time, in a press release quoted by 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 to my fans.” The very content of this eponymous album is unexpected: 14 tracks, but also 17 video clips.

With this “visual album”Queen Bey shows that she “takes seriously the turning point taken with the explosion of audio and video streaming, at a time when physical CD sales are collapsing”Judge Keivan Djavadzadeh, author of Hot, Cool & Vicious. Gender, race and sexuality in American rap (Publishing Amsterdam, 2021). And the repercussions are not only commercial: the star pushes the American music industry to a notable evolution, according to Vox*. The release day for the albums, usually set for Tuesday in the United States, is shifted to Friday, the day the Beyonce.

“Nowadays other artists are popping projects off the cuff or producing ‘visual albums.’ But in 2013, that wasn’t the norm. Beyoncé partly started those trends.”

Keivan Djavadzadeh, researcher

at franceinfo

This good marketing move pays off very quickly: Beyonce sells 600,000 copies in one weekend, reports The Week*. “At a time when singles represent the majority of pop music sales, the album is presented to fans as a complete multimedia work that must be purchased in its entirety for $16”emphasizes the New York Times. The tour de force is all the more successful since the opus is initially only available on iTunes, Apple’s platform: to avoid any leaks, Columbia has decided to wait for it to be put online to start produce the CDs. Never seen.

Three years later, Beyoncé uses the same recipe for Lemonade. This time, the surprise album is accompanied by an hour-long film and is initially only available on Tidal, the streaming platform of her husband Jay-Z. “Queen Bey” is critically acclaimed and offers itself, in passing, new records: 12 songs appear at the same time in the Hot 100 ranking of the most popular songs of the specialized magazine Billboard* and 653,000 albums are sold in one weekend.

While the illegal downloading of music had all but disappeared thanks to the rise of streaming platforms, Lemonade relaunches piracy, raises pitchfork*. The very limited availability of the album arouses the curiosity and enthusiasm of the public.

But to ensure her longevity, Beyoncé needs to expand her following, dubbed the “Beyhive.” This is the interest of the partnerships that the singer forges with platforms like Netflix and Disney +. The first broadcast a documentary about his concert at Coachella, Homecoming. The second would have signed a contract of 100 million dollars with Beyoncé, including in particular the exclusivity of her musical film Black is Kingaccording to the magazine She*.

“These partnerships are win-win: Netflix and Disney bring diversity to their catalogs; Beyoncé makes her music accessible at all times to an audience that may not necessarily have known her.”

Keivan Djavadzadeh, researcher

at franceinfo

The advent of streaming has been mostly unfavorable to artists in terms of remuneration. But “Queen Bey” manages to pull out of the game with these lucrative contracts, which allow him to diversify his sources of income. A particularly welcome financial windfall when the pandemic has put a stop to tours, which constitute the bulk of the income of singers. However, not all artists have this type of opportunity. “It illustrates the special status and weight that Beyoncé has in the music industry”insists the researcher.

Beyoncé is “apart”, and this is also noticeable in her long periods of silence. His rare interviews, published in fashion magazines like Harper’s Bazaar* and vogue*, are spaced almost a year apart. And if her Instagram account is regularly enriched with new publications, the singer has not tweeted since May 2020, without this affecting her notoriety.

These very rare communications (which illustrate 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, she uses her accounts to promote her projects but reveals very little about her private life”, notes Keivan Djavadzadeh.

For the researcher, it is precisely this character “inaccessible” which allows the American to “to pose as an icon of pop culture”. “It’s a form of celebrity that we thought was outdated, even doomed to disappearhe explains. But by refusing to conform to these new modes of communication, Beyoncé is showing that she is not like the others.”

With Renaissance, Beyoncé is once again striving to be where she is not quite expected. The singer thus returned to a more traditional communication strategy: a single, an interview, announcements in the press.. “Today, putting a project online without announcing it is much less original than in 2013: everyone does it. By taking the opposite view of this approach, Beyoncé finally manages to differentiate herself from other artists”believes Keivan Djavadzadeh.

“She’s in an in-between form: the announcements remain cryptic, which creates a game with fans who don’t know exactly what to expect.”

Keivan Djavadzadeh, researcher

at franceinfo

This little dose of mystery works very well so far. A month before the release of Renaissance, four boxes were posted on Beyoncé’s website. Sold for $40, each contains a “collector’s box”, a T-shirt and… a CD. In the era of “all digital”, the pop star is returning to a physical format that is in the process of collapsing. Friday, June 24, the four boxes were already out of stock, while we do not know anything about the design of the t-shirts they contain.

This marketing strategy is not revolutionary: many other artists offer their music in premium and limited CD version, from the K-pop group BTS to the French rapper Orelsan. LThe public buys these boxes above all for the T-shirt. But for artists, it’s often a way to boost sales figures.” according to Keivan Djavadzadeh. Will this strategy allow Beyoncé to break new records with this sixth solo album? Reply July 29. With surely, by then, new surprises to keep the “Beyhive” waiting.

* Links marked with asterisks refer to content in English.

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