“Beysus has risen.”
That’s what my Facebook feed reads to me last night as I’m about to go to bed. The next 15 posts are all various screams of excitement or disbelief that one of the biggest currently performing artists on the planet right now put out an album at the stroke of midnight eastern time. The singer’s fifth studio album is aptly named “Beyoncé” and features her husband Jay-Z, Drake, Frank Ocean and a verse by her toddler daughter Blue Ivy.
That’s the news clip and that is the thing you’ve been hearing all day. Who cares? It’s just another gimmick for headlines, another pop star trying to push themselves to the front (but at least she’s not twerking, right?) The fourth quarter has seen a lot of powerhouse female releases from the likes of Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Yet, somehow Beyoncé was able to create more publicity for her new album by not telling anyone that it existed than she would have been able to generate had she committed to a routine press release schedule.
The thing that makes this so extraordinary is not about the number of albums that Beyoncé will inevitably sell, it’s that she has tapped into the true power of the internet and used it to her own advantage. For the past 15 years artists have struggled against the internet to release their albums in piece-meal singles with their fingers crossed that the entire thing won’t be made available for free download before they can unveil it the way they want, the way they’ve been planning to do for months beforehand.
Last night, Beyoncé said screw that and released her entire album at once, accompanied by 17 videos for each of the songs in a complete artistic package. Just like Netflix figured out that the new generation of television watchers want their episodes in one lump sum to devour at their own pace, Beyoncé released her album the same way – because that’s what the internet can do! Rather than try to fight the current and hand out the new creation in tiny pieces with several drawn out release dates – she gave it to everyone at once.
The beauty of the internet is that it allows for people to portray their art in full context. In the statements she’s made about the album release Bey has compared it to a movie, that she wanted to bypass the circus of press and deliver the album straight to her fans. Yes. Digital marketing and delivery is the level playing field. It’s why Radiohead created the same level of stir when they released In Rainbows on a donation basis. Internet downloading has become a cultural norm not because the current generation enjoys ripping off their favorite artists, but because the internet allows us to consume media directly without mainstream filters or interruptions. And it allows our favorite artists to speak directly to us, for us to see their vision as they intended – it provides a streamline connection between us and them the way that art is supposed to work.
We’ve talked a lot on this blog about whether Beyoncé should be heralded as a personal role model (with some seriously intense debate on either side) but professionally she created a new norm last night. This is the formation of a new wave business model. As a professional black female in the entertainment business that’s a big freakin’ deal. Oh, and did we mention she was in the middle of a headlining world tour while she put all of this together? Talk about balance.
So no matter what your opinion is of Beyoncé, this there is a lesson for every creative person reading this. Don’t fight the current. As we’re trying to figure out the next wave of things to come for Intent Blog and Intent.com we’re definitely going to try and take a page out of Beyoncé’s book – use the creative force of the internet to create meaningful projects in full context and create direct connections between us as content creators and you, who we create everything for. If anything Beyoncé proved last night that meaningful impact happens when you create that connection rather than filtering yourself through the highest bidding brands.
Way to be a boss, Bey.