Gotta give it up to artists who find a theme and stick with it.
Ever since the birth of their child, the hip-hop royal couple Beyoncé and Jay Z have shared through music the love of their beloved daughter. Last week, Beyoncé took the theme a little further as she dropped an album out the blue, no pun intended.
In this age of super spies and tracking devices of every configuration, how the project survived under the shroud of secrecy was impressive in and of itself. Kudos for that one—that was quite the risk.
Fortunately, it paid big returns, as the sale tally for the first three days resulted in a record-breaking 828,773 downloads sold. In a press release dropped soon after the surprise was revealed, Beyoncé rationalized the motivating factor in her radical new business model, saying, “I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it,” she continued. “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.”
Not much is known of the project other then it’s called a “visual album,” containing 14 songs, with each song accompanied by a video, along with three bonus videos. It features collaborations with Drake, Frank Ocean and Bé’s husband and daughter, Jay Z and Blue Ivy.
“I see music,” Beyoncé said in the same press release. “It’s more than just what I hear. When I’m connected to something, I immediately see a visual or a series of images that are tied to a feeling or an emotion—a memory from my childhood, thoughts about life, my dreams or my fantasies. And they’re all connected to the music.”
It appears that Beyoncé has led by example, as the Lox (Jadakiss, Styles P and Sheek Louch) have followed suit and released new music this week as well. The Yonkers-originated group offers a four-song EP called “The Trinity,” which serves as a precursor to the release of their first group offering in 13 years.
Looks like the music industry as we know it is about to be scrambled and the matrix is about to fall. No more all-powerful gatekeepers who allow personal preference to keep some good, deserving projects on the shelf. Artist/public, sans the middle man.
A change is going to come, but not without a fight from a retail powerhouse that is offering resistance in a major way.
“At Target, we focus on offering our guests a wide assortment of physical CDs, and when a new album is available digitally before it is available physically, it impacts demand and sales projections,” Target spokeswoman Erica Julkowski said. “While there are many aspects that contribute to our approach and we have appreciated partnering with Beyoncé in the past, we are primarily focused on offering CDs that will be available in a physical format at the same time as all other formats.”