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Pop Stars And Music Insiders Talk About Beyonce's Surprise Album Release

posted 16 Dec 2013, 15:49 by Mpelembe   [ updated 16 Dec 2013, 15:50 ]

Robin ThickeRyan Seacrest and others talk about Beyonce's unorthodox album release.

 (PARKWOOD ENTERTAINMENT/ COLUMBIA RECORDS) -  U.S. pop singer Beyonce surprised fans and critics with the release of her fifth solo studio album on Friday (December 13), which features 14 new songs and 17 videos and caused a stir on Twitter, capping a year in which the singer made a carefully choreographed return to music.

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The 32-year-old Grammy-winning performer said she wanted to release the music in a new way, in order to connect more directly with her fans.

After she announced the album, it was immediately available worldwide exclusively on iTunes, skipping the advance publicity, critics' reviews and other marketing strategies that usually precede the release of a major musical artist's new work.

Music trade publication Billboard, citing sources, said the album sold 80,000 copies within three hours of its iTunes release early on Friday. And by the following Monday had sold over half a million copies.

"Beyonce's most recent album is a digital only album. You can't go out and buy the CD in stores yet and you can't even download individual tracks if you want to do that. So those are two unorthodox decisions that she made. In fact, those are big risks but they are paying off for her. She sold over 600,000 copies just in the United States over the first weekend. That's three days and that's an incredibly impressive number especially considering that no one can go out and buy the record in the store," said Simon Vozick-Levinson, a senior editor for Rolling Stone magazine.

The move to release the album without fanfare was designed to let fans hear the music first and form their own opinions, something that Billboard editorial director Bill Werde said was rarely seen among music's top performers.

Entitled "Beyonce," the digital compilation is the singer's first visual album and contains videos filmed in HoustonNew York, Paris, Sydney and Rio de Janeiro, many of the shots filmed during her "Mrs. Carter Show World Tour". Physical album copies in CD and DVD format will be available later in December.

"One of the things that is even more impressive about Beyonce's project is that she didn't just release a surprise album, it's a visual album. So it's an album that includes a video for every single one of the tracks. And these aren't just some quick tossed out causal videos these are high budget, high production value videos. Really complete impressive - it's almost like dropping like 15 'Thriller' videos all at once," Vozick-Levinson told Reuters.

Pop stars arriving to perform at New York's Jingle Ball concert on Friday were still in stock over the surprise release.

"Dude I died a thousand times in the best way. I've been watching all the videos. Like there are so many videos that I still haven't seen them all. That's pretty incredible," said Hayley Williams, the lead singer of the band Paramore.

Veteran rockers "Fall Out Boy" cheered her innovative business sense.

"I think it's such a smart move," said Patrick Stump.

"I think it's cool to see big acts being innovative. You know, like who would have seen that coming,"Pete Wentz added.

Robin Thicke, who had one of the year's most successfully singles, "Blurred Lines," with old-fashioned promotion was just learning about the release on the red carpet.

"Oh, I didn't even know. I can't wait to hear it. I'm a huge Beyonce fan. But I didn't even know that," he said.

For TV personality and radio host Ryan Seacrest the announcement changed the way music insiders react to new music.

"It caught me by surprise and it changed my entire schedule today. Because it came out, you know, late last night, early this morning and it's very cleaver. We in the music business sometimes know those things are going to happen, we didn't have any idea that that was going to happen the way that it did. But it's exciting," he said.

The manner of the new album's sudden release generated plenty of reaction from fans, including fellow musicians, on Twitter. The album release generated more than 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours, Twitter said on Friday, with a spike of 5,300 tweets a minute.

However, Vozick-Levinson cautioned other artists from trying such a bold move.

"You have to really be in a unique position to do this. You have to have a huge number of dedicated fans who will go out and buy your album just because they hear it exist even without any promotion leading up to it. Beyonce is one of the very few artists who can actually pull that off successfully. Most artists probably can't," he said.

"Beyonce" follows the singer's June 2011 record, "4". Collaborators on the new album include Jay Z, TimbalandPharrell Williams, Drake and Justin Timberlake.