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Opinion: Beyoncé – a musical genius or a marketing maestro?

Beyoncé is back with Lemonade to quench the thirst of gossip among her fans.

Unless you have no access to social media, or the world wide web in general, you probably know about Beyoncé’s latest album Lemonade, which is also the name of her movie which premiered on HBO.

Here’s a look at the trailer:

If you are a rookie “Beyhive” (that’s what Beyoncé fans are known as), we have you covered. Here’s a short synopsis of what is going on. Lemonade is Beyoncé’s sixth album and the “visual album” premiered on HBO last week. It talks about the hardships of marriage and a cheating husband.

Soon after the premiere, the album was also available to be streamed only on Tidal, a subscription-based music streaming service run by her husband Jay Z. Ironic, as many think the album supposedly points fingers at her husband and his alleged extra-marital affairs.

As reported on The New Yorker, Tidal at the start of the month was not even in the top 500 apps on the US iOS charts. But soon after the album dropped, it got pushed to number two. According to the article, this spike was also backed by the death of music legend Prince whose music was only available for streaming on Tidal.

Despite being launched with little hint or publicity, the album has taken the world by storm. Most of the media coverage is around “the other woman” Queen B hints to in her lyrics, and this has left the Beyhive community playing detective.

This begs the question: Is Beyoncé a music maestro or a marketing genius, or both?

As we reported in 2013 Beyoncé took similar tactics to market her fifth album – the surprise element and visual storytelling works in her favour. Of course, having an engaged community of a gazillion fans also helps.

Beyoncé, obviously, is quite aware of her brand and takes it very seriously. There’s no other reason why she walks around with a “visual director” who captures practically “every waking moment of hers,” said an article on GQ. Moreover, last year she also got her publicist to email Buzzfeed to remove some of her unflattering photographs from the Super Bowl.

Moreover, post all the speculation, a source came out to Page Six saying the album isn’t actually about their relationship, but rather just a marketing stunt. In Page Six, the source was quoted as saying:

They develop these storylines to sell albums. Lemonade is a movie crafted to drive sales.

“Jay and Beyoncé are entertainers at the top of their game. Do you think Jay would release her album on [his own label] Tidal if it really was all about him? He is 100% behind this.”

“They’re marketing masters,” another source added.

Makes your head spin, doesn’t it? After hours of speculation and debating, as a fan, I must admit I am a little disappointed, but as a marketing journalist, I am awed.

Kudos to Beyoncé and you know as they say … when life give you lemons, make lemonade.

 

 
Rezwana Manjur
Southeast Asia Editor
Marketing Magazine Singapore
Rezwana Manjur, a true blue city girl and complete social animal, spends half her time sifting through advertising scandals, and the other half testing out brands' retail marketing strategies at the mall. She enjoys traveling and fantasising over the charming lads on hit TV show Mad Men. Most weekends, she turns nocturnal, except when brunch comes into play.

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