The visual album Beyoncé released last week has gone totally viral. Lemonade is, for all intents and purposes, a beautifully written, filmed, choreographed, and of course sung series of heartfelt songs, all strung together to make something none of us expected (I mean, sort of... it is Beyoncé, after all. Expect the unexpected). But behind the album itself is a whole slew of interesting decisions that the Queen Bey and her cohorts had to have made before releasing this album… Here we go.
Let’s first take a moment to both recognize and appreciate what Lemonade is at its core, and what it stands for. The album is at once an artistic triumph and an overt embrace of blackness. Regarding the latter, there’s a lot that could be said and discussed, but for starters, and just to give you a vivid picture, Beyoncé features prominent black rapper Kendrick Lamar on a track, Serena Williams appears in one of the videos, and Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown's mothers all make cameos. Clearly, Bey is making a statement with this piece.
When Beyoncé gifted us with the surprise release of her song Formation at the end of 2015, we were thrilled. But this—this Lemonade—is another animal entirely. The album seeks to help the public delineate feminism, especially black feminism, misogyny, and society’s ever-present racial tensions. And in every single one of these aspects, it does a remarkable job. If you've listened/watched the hour-ish long album, you know that a lot of Lemonade is also about (or seemingly about, anyway—that’s up for debate) Beyoncé and Jay Z's marital issues. At one point in the video that accompanies the song "Don't Hurt Yourself"', Beyoncé throws a ring at the screen and exclaims: "You know I give you life/And if you try that shit again, you gon’ lose your wife." Whoa. Once the shocking awesomeness of Lemonade has washed over you, it’s likely, even if you don't have any real desire to do so, that you’ll think to yourself: are Jay Z and Beyoncé really splitting up? Did he cheat on her? What's with that last video wherein Jay Z and Blue Ivy make cameos? I'm so confused. Don't worry, we were/are confused too. And we're about to both quell that confusion, and make it much it worse. Stay with us.
Tidal is the brainchild of Beyoncé’s husband, Jay Z, who is one of the most successful artists of all time. Tidal is an application that shot to the top of Apple's App Store when Jay Z made Kanye West’s newest album available for streaming only on Tidal. In its first days, Lemonade was released exclusively for streaming on Tidal (it has since been released on iTunes, and will stream on Pandora and Amazon), but you get the idea. There are roughly 5 million subscribers to Jay Z’s Tidal. The app charges $9.99 a month for basic access, and $19.99 for high-quality audio access. Reel Network did the math for us, and that comes out to roughly $50 million in revenue over the course of the single weekend during which Beyoncé dropped the album. Whoa.
Beyoncé seems to find a new way to rewrite the industries rules whenever she releases an album. This time, her rule breaking appears to have earned here somewhere in the realm of $50 million. Forbes called this a “pre-tour marketing campaign”—and that just about sums up how we feel about Lemonade. Beyonce’s visual album was released a mere four days prior to when her tour was set to begin in Miami (just for a second: imagine how epic a concert that was—can you tell I’m a fan?). Forbes’ Media and Entertainment section reported that the “Sunday and Monday following [Lemonade] were [SeatGeek’s] biggest sales days for the Formation tour since the days following the initial ticket release, and website traffic to pages for the upcoming concerts, which had leveled off in recent weeks, has more than tripled since Saturday. What was already a $200 million-plus tour might cement Beyoncé as one of the biggest touring acts in the world.” Given these two statistics (we’re still just trying to wrap our heads around the figures, really), we’re left with only one question: if Beyoncé isn’t the queen of marketing, then who is?
What Do You Think?
I’m not sure how I feel about all of this. As a fan of Queen Bee, I’m happy to have some new music to download (I opted to buy from iTunes, simply because if this is just a big marketing ploy, I want to have as little part in it as possible… while still enjoying the music, of course). What do you think? Was this big plot twist in Beyoncé and Jay Z’s marriage just a marketing scheme, created to confuse and get us to pay money for songs that a lot of us don’t have? Who knows. What I do know is that the songs are great—the video as a whole is great, and I sure hope this wasn’t just a publicity stunt.
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