I normally don’t post marketing stuff in this blog but thought of sharing as there are a lot of interesting things happened in the launch of this Album. This is kind of a background and a SWOT analysis on the Album based on a case study by Anita Elbers,Stacie Smith: Harvard Business School : August 28th 2014.
Beyonce is an Album by Beyonce launched in 2013 and became a hit. A lot of things happened behind a surprise launch. This case gives us a lot of information that we can use to analyse and study about the US music market.
Music industry in the U.S
In USA there used to be a time when people buy the whole Album as everything comes in a single tape or a Disk. So earlier days Music events TV shows to promote the whole Album. Beyonce explains this saying how she misses her old days and how she and her family used to watch the Michael Jackson Event in TV.
These days it’s all about singles, a song from an Album gets popular and people only buy that specific song, Thanks to the latest technology Advancement. Sites like iTunes and Spotify have made agreement with the Artists and Music industries to make sure that the audio is released from their sites and they will make sure that the songs reach maximum people. They do early access promotions and provide the facility of buying singles online and download. So people don’t bother to buy a whole album they only buy the ones that are trending.
By some estimate, the total music market in the United States, covering both live and recorded music sales, was worth $15 billion in 2013 Already the largest segment at close to 60% of revenues, live music revenues were expected to grow. As far as recorded music was concerned, revenues from physical sales had been declining steadily in recent years, and only accounted for 15% of total music revenues in 2013, with digital sales making up the remaining 25% (Reference 1).
You can see how the trend is changing from the above data provided. If you see the Physical album sales(Blue Arrow), it is declining with the year where the Digital Album sales(Red Arrow) increasing with the Year.
Beyonce as an artist, a manager and a brand
From here onwards we will be analysing the context of Beyonce using the SWOT analysis. This section explains about the talents and her potential Strengths she got as an Artist and a Manager.
Born in an upper middle class family, she had the luxury of learning dance in the age of 7. Its one of her dancing instructor who found her talent of singing. Her career as a real artist started with Dancing. Performing in talent show, joined into a dance group.
Her family also supported her well including fashion and style and a place to rehearse for events.
But she got professional coaching after she has signed up with Columbia Records in 1996. Destiny’s Child the debut album with many popular singles has brought up the fame to the Beyonce as well her group.
Then later beyonce came up with several studio albums coming out in the period between 2003 – 2013 and became very successful. B’Day is one of the special albums released on her birthday.
She debuted in Hollywood with a film called ‘Dream Girls’ which tells the story of R&B in the period of 1960 – 1970s. Not only singing she is a Stage performer too. She has performed in more than 350 stages by 2013 with more than 10 million fans. Her tours are described as a marathon where she has done more than 100 shows in 11 months in her 5th world tour.
Despite being a woman taking it as a challenge within the society that talk has the common view of there must be a man who is managing all the programs and her company, she actually sits in her offices and work when she does not have any recordings.
Her company Parkwood Entertainment is formed in 2008 and she became the CEO of it. She is always productive and have bigger dreams, all the employees in the ParkWood are encouraged to voice their opinion rather than blindly following the instructions.There is time she has worked 18 hours per day encouraging the employees in the company.
Leadership has to be observed differently in the case of Beyonce. She is a performing artist, performing and managing a company specially the deals and the marketing strategies is not a joke.
Along with her fame with the songs and the song industry the Brand name ‘Beyonce’ also started to Gain popularity. She was endorsing some brands like L’Oreal, Tommy Hilfiger and Giorgio. But then by 2013 she started having things specifically made in her name on some popular Brands, like a whole new series of Items in her names in popular shops. And one of the partnership she had with is Pepsi, where they had a Super Bowl commercial with her and bottles printed with her face. So the brand ‘Beyonce’ really has grown into a powerful lure.
An album release was planned and now 8 months passed the expected date and the Album is still not out, media was becoming nosey on what is happening in the newly rented house. Fans are starting to get impatient. was not able to finish it. But still Beyonce does not want to rush it.
Beyonce came up with 3 criterias for the release
- Launch all songs at once
- Avoid any leaks
- Make it a Visual album
Releasing an Album is that she wants to bring the taste/experience of the old style Album to be fans.
Avoiding leak is an important issue as there is already many incidents of many popular artist’s albums have leaked causing the albums to appear in the online stores even before the release. This is a Great Threat, this need a lot of trust and great management skill to avoid this.
Releasing all the songs with visuals, turned out to be an expensive decisions but, Beyonce was certain that she will not change her decisions as she has planned to create the experience that she was having when she wrote the song.
These are some rare motives from an artist, to care about giving the fans a traditional experience and the feel unlike the other artists who write a song and sell as singles rather than bothering to create an album.
But selling the songs as Album with visuals can be taken as weakness. The fact that she wanted her fans to have a full album experience than Singles. And all the songs with Visuals. She is wasting a lot of resources, time and money here.
This weakness again can be turned into Opportunity If she can sell the songs individually without Video she can earn more and she don’t have to waste a lot of money too. This in future can be thought back where she can turn it into strength.
After creating the main criteria, the first step is to find a secure and popular partner who can handle the world wide distribution of the song at the exact same time. And they decided to go with apple as one of their main goal is the security and the power to handle heavy load. Apple also was in charge of converting the itunes home page to spread the surprise after the launch.
Then to spread the news they have to find a media that can penetrate a large number of Music loving generation and they ended up with Facebook. Facebook is excited to help Beyonce. The plan is to spread the news from the facebook music page and a promoted post to all who uses fb. And it’s all done in the cost of facebook as they encourage the professional services from the celebrities to the fans. And Also based on their suggestion Phase 2 is to do an online session on Instagram, a Ask Beyonce Session to Answer fans of questions.
17 Songs selected out of the 70 Cuts she made and the launch date November 13th is postponed to December 13th which is the last possible date so that they can print the cover and disks for the Physical Album before all the shops close before the Christmas holidays. During the Christmas holidays, specially the last 2 weeks, nothing comes into a store and all the manufacturing companies will be shut down.
Summary of SWOT Analysis(Reference 4)
The Strategies used and not Used(Reference 4)
Success of the Beyonce Album
“Beyoncé Uses Only Word Of Mouth To Market Surprise New Album”(Reference 2)
“The Decisions to release an unexpected album in an unexpected way paid off fans went into meltdown and Beyonce shifted 430 000 copies in one day, in America alone” (Reference 3)
Sale Statistics for the next 3 Weeks from the launch(Reference 4)
The Comparison of Beyonce’s all the Major Albums with her Beyonce Album(Reference 4)
The above Quotes and the statistics will explains the success of the Album Beyonce. If you see the 3 weeks sales, the Peak is on the launch day, it explains that the Surprise strategy has reached like a wildfire with the help of facebook ads and the itunes alone. And if you compared to the Album Sales Beyonce has reached a record sales. 617k Downloads in the 1st 3 Days and 1.2 Million Downloads in the 1st 3 Months.
Recommendations to Parkwood Entertainment
The strategy that that Beyonce wanted to experiment or the experience she wanted to provided to the fans really worked. In a way it has saved a lot of time wasted on the marketing and spendings on Marketing and it returned to be still a Big Success. But continuing on this strategy may not work in future as the fans now will be on lookout.
For the future I would recommend them to follow with the traditional way. There are a lot of things that can be avoided. Launching a single from the album early will give a feedback on how the rest of the songs of the albums can be created. Analysing the market on what the current trend is and what people really need will always give you a step ahead. In the Album Beyonce, she was kind of stressed out as she wanted to finish this Album somehow and with visuals with very less time could have caused them to make a lot of mistakes, luckily the album is liked by the fans. What would have happened if they did not do a proper analysis and the album launch is failed? It would have affected the trust and the good positive relationship that they had with Sony entertainment. So it’s Good in a while to take a risk and Give the fans once in a lifetime Treat, but also it is important to avoid mistakes to stay afloat in the market and to be a challenge to the other artists.
1. Beyonc’e: Anita Elbers,Stacie Smith: Harvard Business School : August 28th 2014
2.Zack O’malley Greenburg (17 Dec. 2013.). Breaking Down Beyonce’s Record-Breaking Album Launch. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/zackomalleygreenburg/2013/12/17/breaking-down-beyonces-record-breaking-album-launch/
3.Robinson, Peter (1 Jan. 2014.). Beyoncé has reinvented how to release an album. Over to you, Adele. the Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/jan/01/beyonce-redefined-release-album-adele
4.Patrick Cines : Beyonce Case Study: Hitting Replay on Success : May 1, 2016: http://www.slideshare.net/PatrickCines/beyonce-hitting-replay-on-success