At midnight on Thursday, Queen Bey wowed the entertainment world with the news that she was releasing her fifth solo album. The self-titled work represents a first in many categories — including, in a nod to the visual aspect of music entertainment, more videos than songs — but will be remembered for its stealth: No one outside of her recording label, Columbia, knew to expect it. And where did she break the news? On Instagram, with a short promotional video for the project and the one-word caption “Surprise!”
That’s it. No weeks of dribbling out singles, no media interviews, no daytime talk show appearances.
According to a press release from her label, Beyoncé herself was behind the change. Columbia called her decision ”an unprecedented strategic move by the artist to deliver music and visual content directly to her fans when she wants to and how she wants to, with no filter.”
“This unique approach allows music fans to be the first to listen, view, engage and form their own opinions void of any middleman,” the release continues. “Stripped of gimmicks, teasers and marketing campaigns, this project is truly about art before hype.”
Regardless of where you stand on whether the lack of pre-release marketing is a gimmick all its own, the popularity of appealing directly to consumers through social media can’t be denied.
“I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it,” Beyoncé is quoted as saying in the release. “I am bored with that. I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans. There’s so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans. I felt like I didn’t want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready and from me to my fans.”
And her fans, of course, ate it up. On Monday, Apple reported that her album has become the fastest-selling album ever on the iTunes Store with an unprecedented 828,773 albums sold in just its first three days. In addition, it broke the U.S. first week album sales record with 617,213 sold and soared to No. 1 in 104 countries.
But what does it say about the state of consumer-centered marketing? Simply put, consumers are eager to play a central role in spreading the word about their favorite brands.
“This is very much in line with what’s happening right now in marketing, which is this idea of marketing without marketing, or anti-marketing, where you appear to be just delivering your product directly to the consumer without any mediation,” Jason King, a musician and professor at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, told National Public Radio. ”This seems like a direct gift from the celebrity to the consumer.”
A gift that keeps on giving, judging by the 1.2 million tweets posted in the first 12 hours. Why not let your army move your product? But what do you say, readers? Are you convinced that relying on your brand’s social media followers to be the main drivers of your marketing efforts will pay off? Let us hear from you in the comments section!