Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, and Miley Cyrus; All have, subliminally or otherwise, made protestations about being the so called ‘Queen of Popular music’. Their various stunts, frolics and antics designed to put (or keep) themselves in front and centre of the public eye. Then, with absolutely zero promotion and secret service level secrecy, the true Queen B shows them all how it’s supposed to be done.
Beyoncé (the album) is breaking sales and video hit records by the day. The visual concept of the album has made every other pretender to the throne, take stock of their now mediocre marketing strategies (that includes you Miley). The new Drake like flow and sing song raps coupled with a new emotional courage have set new standards for what any wannabe diva, is supposed to be capable of. Beyoncé (the artist) has quite simply put all of her rivals on their arse with one punch.
The planning, the timing, the concept and the execution of the plan (and you know hubby had a part to play as well), are nothing short of genius. But to do it all, without a single crumb of evidence of its release being leaked is the biggest tick in the box. In this age of ever increasing online piracy, the year’s biggest release is simply not supposed to be able to be kept away from prying ears…. Except it was. I suspect that there are some hefty bonuses in order for those who played their part in keeping things hush hush.
But think about it. This goes beyond the mere release of a great album. Beyoncé (the album) is not just a great concept and sales beast. This album could be the catalyst for change. The music industry may have just gotten the kick up the backside it needs, to delve into new streams of originality, and I am not just talking about the artists. Many aspects of the industry (as a whole), including the technology that helps drive it, may have to undergo some major surgery in order to take this new found strategy a step forward.
A new era not just in marketing, but in the way consumers purchase and listen to their music is upon us. Commuters may not only be sitting on the tube listening to their favourite artists new material, but ‘Watching an album’ which could sooner or later become the norm. The music video may no longer be simply for marketing purposes. Visual albums could be sold (at a slight premium) alongside their audio only counterparts. YouTube and Vevo might not have a monopoly on newly released videos unless pay walls are introduced for an artists premium material. Artists may even look at releasing movie length videos with their new albums, a concept being interwoven into the plot. Whole new intertwined genres of musical movie albums could be created. Imagine a twisted Pop fantasy by Lady Gaga, a Hip Hop Blaxploitation inspired pimp fest by Snoop Dogg (or maybe not if he continues as Snoop Lion), or an Electro Pop modern Anime Sci-Fi epic by Daft Punk. The possibilities are out there and artists of any level of fame can be involved as YouTube has already proven.
Technology will also have to move forward at an even faster rate than it already has. Albums will eventually start to match films in size and as such, the average memory capacity of our favourite handheld devices will have to be much bigger to accommodate the change. Artists tie ins with new mobile devices is nothing new, but the visual element will over time make such endorsement deals even more frequent than current trends. The fastest mobile internet data speeds will have to vastly improve their coverage and reliability to accommodate the consumers hunger for these latest releases.
I fully expect all of the above to happen. I don’t think that it will happen right away as no one will want to be seen as, copying the undisputed Queen of Popular music. Anyone who tries that too soon will immediately face the wrath of critics and public alike. But… given time such a concept will definitely be repeated and probably on a grander scale. Right now there are choreographers, script writers, music moguls, A&Rs, managers, accountants and of course the primary subjects of their work, all looking into concepts and ideas that they think will match or better what Beyoncé has just achieved.
Or, this could simply be the geek in me slowly taking a front row seat in my head. These may be the rankings of an acute eccentric. But one can’t help but recognise the creative possibilities that this album opens up. Or with the release of her latest (and greatest) achievement, Beyoncé could have set in motion a sea change that will see our grandchildren and great grandchildren view such releases as a part of their everyday existence. Beyoncé (the album) could be a more important release for music than even the lady herself anticipated.
Illustration by @magikginart