Ok, so I'll confess... despite playing a Beyoncé at a fairly important point in my wedding, I am not really a Beyoncé fan. I've never bought one of her albums, or really paid much attention to her career other than the occasional single on the radio. I would not say she's one of my favorite artists by any means.
And yet, I'm sitting here listening to her new album. Not because I was so interested in it, but because as someone who loves out-of-the-box marketing strategies, I couldn't not buy it. Just to see what all the hype was about. You see, there was no hype.
That's right. Beyoncé literally just released an entire album without doing any promotion whatsoever. No, that's not a joke. No one knew it was coming. The entire fucking Internet will probably have shit itself by tomorrow morning, partially because it will be ashamed that in this day and age, even the information that Beyoncé was working on an album didn't leak. Much less the album itself. Right now the news is at the top of Digg and reddit's /r/music subreddit. According to the /r/music thread, there were some 'leaks' by extras posting on Instagram that they were in a Beyoncé video, but no one really knew what it was for.
Oh, which brings me to the next point. There are videos for every single song (14 in total) on the album. What. The. Fuck.
So, why do things this way? Well, for one because it's fucking brilliant. I mean, c'mon, they spent absolutely no money on marketing this album, and yet this will end up being the most talked about stunt of 2013, I guarantee you. But apparently there was more to it than just that. Beyonce released a statement explaining the decision on Facebook:
“I miss that immersive experience. Now, people only listen to a few seconds of a song on their iPods. They don’t really invest in a whole album. It’s all about the single. And the hype. It’s so much that gets between the music and the artist and the fans. I felt like…I don’t want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready. From me to my fans.”
So yeah. There's that. And, honestly, she's got a point. Most albums these days are built around singles. That's not to say that albums with really strong singles can't also be jam-packed of really good songs (For example, I think some of the non-single songs on Lorde's Heroine are even better than the singles). But Beyoncé is right to say that people get fixated on that song, and don't listen to the entire album. I absolutely love the spirit behind this.
The best part about it all, though, is that it's actually a pretty great album. I'm about 2/3rds of the way through it, and I like more songs than I don't. That's saying something, because I'm the type of person who takes a while to really get into music. I'll often give albums several chances, and find that my "favorite song" evolves over time. Sometime the song I hated the first time around is the one I love the most by the time I move on to a new album. I can't say I have a favorite yet, though the video for Haunted certainly is a lot of fun.
It'll be fun to see the reactions to this tomorrow morning, and whether or not this catches on as a thing in the future. This could be one of those things that can only be pulled off by once (and only if that person is as well-known as Beyoncé). Alternatively, this could start a trend in the music industry. Either way, it's fucking gutsy, and I'm impressed on multiple levels.
Check out the 30 second preview of the Haunted video: