Beyonce: A late entry to the winners’ circle for 2013.
Earlier today I offered up a few big names in the music industry who’ve seen better years than 2013. Now it’s time to outline three of the biggest winners.
There were certainly other success stories in the music business over the past year, but these three struck me as being particularly notable:
As discussed in my previous post, 2013 was supposed to be the Year of Gaga. It wasn’t. Instead, three other pop divas stole the spotlight—first Miley Cyrus, then Lorde, and, most boldly of all, Beyoncé.
That’s not to discredit the cleverness of Cyrus and her team in hijacking the VMAs, not to mention the national discourse on popular music. And it’s no knock on Lorde, who came from nowhere (rather, New Zealand) to deliver music that seems to have made people truly excited about, well, music.
But the surprise launch of Beyoncé’s self-titled album is perhaps most revolutionary not for what it did, but for what it didn’t do. Mrs. Carter is one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, signed to one of its more storied labels. Yet she didn’t make use of any of the perks of such an arrangement—the “machine” we’re told is so necessary. There was no radio promotion, no single, no advance press of any kind.
“The fact that nearly 900,000 customers were willing to pay full price to buy this album is testament to the passionate dedication of Beyoncé’s legions of fans,” one veteran entertainment attorney told me. “Most artists have to pre-sell or hype albums by giving away singles on various websites, or streaming the album.”
The result: an opening week total that was more than Gaga’s and Katy Perry’s, combined. Is her success replicable? Probably not. Would it have worked for someone else? Perhaps five or ten other stars. And it’s worth noting that the album, only available as an iTunes download for its first week, was pirated extensively. But having the gumption to take such a risk? That’s what it takes to run the world.