Music producer Teddy Riley says Beyonce surprise release method sets new standard
The industry had used a traditional formula for new releases
Riley: Beyonce, however, just proved she is not afraid to try new things
Editor’s Note: Teddy Riley is a Grammy Award-winning producer, composer, recording artist. He has produced artists from Whitney Houston to Michael Jackson, with whom he co-wrote hits “Remember the Time” and “Jam.” He created the new group BS2 Ft. Dave Hollister and just released their single “I Luv Her My Christmas Girl.”
The game just changed. And Beyonce just changed it.
The music industry has a track record knowing how to market the extremely prolific, gifted, inspiring, highly-credited icons. They’ve done it for years.
There’s a formula: Put out a single on the radio first, then blanket the market with promotion, then schedule a big release party.
Sure, there are the legends who have created their own vine, their sonic signature sound,their own untraceable music landscapes – The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley and the “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson.
For those icons, the rules – and techniques – are a bit different. But none of them tried what Mrs. Carter just pulled off.
When Beyonce surprised the entire music industry this month by releasing her latest album, “Beyonce,” only on iTunes first – with no warning, no other promotion, no launch parties, no advance radio play, none of the traditional pre-sale retail hype – she showed how only a true star can break this industry glass ceiling. When it comes to business savvy, she just joined the lists of the greats.
The album quickly became the No.1 seller on iTunes, moving more than 1 million copies worldwide in just its first week. And, at the same time, she also released 17 full-fledged music videos.
This was no stunt. It was a smart and honest way to let the fans decide for themselves if they wanted the LP without major promotion and publicity. And, by announcing it first on Instagram to her millions of followers, it was a masterful nod to her true, loyal fans – and they have responded in kind.
No one in the music industry could have pulled this off except Beyonce. Her global fans follow her 24/7 online, on the air and on social media. And, like Michael Jackson, her stardom keeps fans anticipating her next song, her next dance move, her next fashion statement and her next signature on the dotted line.
And she reset the retail music business, too. It didn’t matter if retailers like Target – who just announced their plans – decided not to sell the LP that hit retail outlets Friday because it was released on iTunes first. Other outlets, such as Walmart (where Beyonce made a surprise appearance), have stepped up and will sell out before they can order their next shipment. Target’s loss, Walmart’s gain.
Beyonce is unique. She has shown that she is not afraid to try new things to reach greater heights, to change the game.
I am curious and excited to see what she will do next. As I’ve noticed on iTunes, this is just Part 1.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Teddy Riley.