Is Beyoncé’s ‘Renaissance’ Rollout (Gasp!) Conventional?

Is Beyoncé’s ‘Renaissance’ Rollout (Gasp!) Conventional?

An upbeat lead single is ready for radio. An album title and release date with ample notes. Oh Magazine cover storyfollowed by a personal mission statement, a fresh social media account, a detailed tracklist and a pre-sale of merchandise.

For most musicians, these are bullet points timed in the playbook to introduce a major new album. But for Beyoncé, who has spent more than a decade bucking all the conventions of music marketing, Friday’s rollout of her latest album, “Renaissance,” is a surprising shift — and Perhaps this is a tacit acknowledgment that the game has changed. .

Before Beyonce’s seventh solo studio album, “Renaissance,” the singer last took such industry-standard baby steps with “4” in 2011, President Barack Obama was still in his first term and a European music start. Up that was called Spotify. Just arrived in America. Since then, there hasn’t been much about the formula for selling new music that Beyoncé hasn’t tweaked, disrupted or completely eliminated.

Been there before. “Beyoncé,” 2013’s Paradigm Shifting Surprise “Visual Album”. Then came “Lemonade” (2016), a gesture-filled tour de force that reached With more mystery as a movie on cable television. Working closely with Tidal, then the streaming service controlled by her husband, Jay-Z, and with media outlets such as HBO, Disney and Netflix, Beyonce has explored and developed one ambitious multimedia project after another. Space is given for careful consideration. Compared to easy access and maximum consumption

This work, and the innovative way she released it, helped Beyoncé skyrocket in artistic stature. Yet it also served to distance the singer somewhat from the pop music mainstream, siloing his material — the “Lemonade” album was not widely distributed on major streaming platforms until three years after its initial release. Scale was not available, while its full film is currently available. Only on Tidal — and potentially hampering its commercial performance.

Beyoncé’s last No. 1 single as a lead artist, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” came in late 2008. Despite the fact that her 28 Grammy Awards make her the most-winning woman in music, she did not take home any trophies. In a major category since 2010. Radio play for his new solo releases has dropped significantly since “4”. And while six of his solo albums have gone to No. 1, in between projects like “Everything Is Love” (a Amazing joint album with Jay Z). “The Lion King” Soundtrack And his concert album “coming home” Each has failed to reach the top.

Still, Beyoncé’s paradox means that even though she’s slipped somewhat on the charts, her massive cultural prestige remains the most intact, thanks to what she brings to every project (“I don’t measure success Can be put,” he rapped on “Nice” from 2018, mocking the importance of “streaming numbers”.)

“She’s still a culture leader, regardless of the relatively minor data points in her world like album sales and radio play,” said Daniel Smithveteran music journalist and Author of the recent “Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop.”

“There are people in this world who exist to change the culture, to change the vibe,” he said in an interview. “It matters to some extent, singles or albums or radio play, but what really matters is that they see us in a new direction.”

From the start, however, the rollout of “Renaissance” has been different — more transparent, more traditional. Beyoncé, 40, stated in one. Instagram post Last month, as a “place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking”, the album is being held up to massive consumer awareness and fan excitement, with four different boxed sets and a limited edition vinyl version. Already sold out on the singer’s website.

Rob Jonas, chief executive of Luminate, the music data service behind the Billboard charts, said, “She and her representation are acknowledging that things have changed since the release of her last album, and she’s getting full court press. Gotta go.”

A major risk to the old-fashioned release strategy — which required physical copies of the album to be produced long in advance — came to light on Wednesday, when “Renaissance” appeared to be leaked online in its entirety. Fan accounts on social media Speculations that an early, unofficial version could have come from CDs that were pre-sold in Europe.

Now, Beyoncé’s famous security base, known as the BeyHive, quickly jumped in to band together to discourage eavesdropping and report those spreading the bootleg.

While advance leaks of major albums were common as the CD era gave way to digital downloads, and could destroy the prospects of a new album, the crackdown on digital piracy and the shift to the streaming-first model – with surprise releases like Beyonce’s – greatly reduced that risk.

The last time Beyoncé suffered a major leak was with “4” in 2011, when he told the audience, “Although I didn’t want to perform my new songs, I appreciate the positive response from my fans.” (Representatives for Beyoncé and her label declined to comment on its release strategy, and did not immediately respond to questions about the leak.)

Behind the scenes, the luxury of advance notice and — hallelujah! – An early promotional single can give industry gatekeepers, such as radio stations and streaming services, runway to engage themselves before the album’s launch.

Getting anything out before the drop is a gift, said Michael Martin, senior vice president of programming for Odyssey, which operates more than 230 radio stations nationwide. “When you have lead time, you can be a better marketing partner with the artist and the label and management. You can have everything ready when the project hits the ecosystem. That’s who you are.” want. You don’t want to panic.”

break my soul“A throwback to 1990s dance music and the first single from “Renaissance” was released more than a month ago. With 57 million streams and 61,000 radio spins in the United States, according to Luminate, the song is currently #1 on the Billboard 7 on the Hot 100 — her peak so far and only the third time Beyoncé has cracked the top 10 in the past decade as a principal artist. (Two of her most recent chart-toppers came as a guest: in 2017 “Perfect Duet” with Ed Sheeran and “Savage Remix” with Megan Thee Stallion in 2020.)

Yet like Beyoncé with most things, the commercial and the artistic can go hand in hand. Smith said that the preparation for the release of “Renaissance” was similar to his teased vintage touchstones – for example, special attention was paid to the album’s elaborate vinyl packaging, which once again The reality of big tent pop releases.

“Once I realized that Beyoncé was pulling back a little bit, musically and artistically, with her voice and her cues, the rollout started to make sense to me,” Smith said. “It’s all very meta.”

Another recent key development is Beyonce’s. Coming to TikTokthe home of bite-sized, shareable videos that has been one of the most reliable drivers of music hits for at least three years, as well as a go-to hype platform for young stars like Lizzo and Cardi B. Is.

This month, Beyoncé’s official account posted her first TikToks — a montage of fans, including Cardi, dancing to “Break My Soul,” followed by the vinyl artwork revealed for “Renaissance” — and the singer. Made it recently The entire catalog of music User-generated videos are available for scoring on the platform.

Luminate’s Jonas said short-form videos drive “mass awareness and downstream consumption.” “We have a clear vision on this.” Even before her participation, Beyonce’s songs like “Savage Remix” and “Jonah” Grown up on TikTok.

Even if the straightforward release of “Renaissance” represents a return to full pop dominance for Beyoncé, there’s still a possibility she has more steps to take. Finally, the album has been teased by the singer as “Act I”, indicating that it could be just one piece of a larger project.

“It all feels a little too much like she’s playing by the rules right now,” Jonas said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a twist that we don’t know about yet.”

Part of Beyoncé’s cultural mastery, Smith said, involves her ability to make herself rare in certain moments and then become the center of everything again when she chooses. “Right now, she lets others vent, but it’s up to her, as she sees fit,” Smith said. “Her overall effect — how she walks, what she wears — is unparalleled.”

He added, “I believe that if Beyonce woke up at 42, 45 or 50 and decided she wanted to rule the culture on all data points. And Then she can make an impact — like Cher before her, like Tina Turner before her — without really breaking a sweat.

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