Fellow pop singers Katy Perry and Lady Gaga had months of promo and elaborate pre-release events, not to mention heavily promoted lead singles running up to their new releases. Miley Cyrus spent weeks naked, twerking and licking hammers in order to promote her new album. All Beyonce had to do was snap her fingers and drop a surprise album to iTunes, and music fans collectively lost their shit.
No warning, no events, no lead single. The “visual album” consisting of 14 songs and accompanying videos cost 15.99 on iTunes, the only place it’s available right now. Also, the songs are not available to download separately until December 20.
And still, the self titled release sold 80,000 copies in the 3 HOURS after it was made available at 12 midnight ET on Friday December 13. Certainly not an unlucky day for Beyonce. Through Friday, the set sold over 430,000 and could sell as much as 600,000 when the sales week ends at the end of today. Beyonce will easily sit atop the Billboard 200 chart when the sales figures come out on Wednesday.
According to Billboard, “At 430,000, “Beyonce” is already set to become the biggest debuting album by a female artist since Taylor Swift sold an astounding 1.2 million copies of “Red” in the week corresponding to Billboard 200 chart dated Nov 10, 2012.” What’s more, “if predictions in the 600,000 range hold, the set would grant Beyonce the best debut week- and best sales week period- of her career. Her 2006 album “B’day” started with 541,000 in September 2006.”
Dropping an album in the middle of the night with no promo is certainly not a strategy for everyone. Only a pop star of Beyonce’s stature could make it work. But work, it did. The explosion of press and social media buzz immediately after the “sneak attack” cut through the clutter of all the other release news from other artists. Kudos to Bey’s team for playing such a smart hand.
UPDATE: Beyonce sold an additional 120,000, or so, according to Billboard, on Saturday, bringing the total to over 550,000. The tracking week ends at the end of Sunday.