Sunday, December 13th, marked the 7th anniversary of the release of Beyoncé, the popular singer’s self-titled album that changed the music industry forever.
In the new age of digital media, artists needed to find a better way to reach their fans and connect with them on a large scale, which is exactly what Beyoncé did with this album. She promoted it in a subtle and unprecedented way, which is how she was able to change the game.
Albums need promotion. After all, how are fans supposed to know when they’re dropping if they don’t know they exist? With the very low-key promotion of her self-titled album, Beyoncé changed the way that music is promoted now. She bypassed transitional music marketing methods and went straight to her fans through social media. Throughout the year, she had dropped small hints on her Instagram account, including video screenshots and behind the scenes footage. However, they had no context, which left followers with only speculations.
At around midnight EST on December 12, the album was out. And how did Beyoncé announce it? An Instagram post featuring clips of the album visuals sped up together with the caption “Surprise!” With this drop, she repopularized the concept of a surprise album, which is now known as “pulling a Beyoncé.” In addition to this being a surprise album, it was released on a Friday, an unusual day for releases in the music industry. Up until then, album releases usually occurred on Tuesdays. After the release of Beyoncé, Friday music releases were popularized, and Billboard even changed album tracking weeks to begin on Fridays.
Even with this surprise drop on a usual day, Beyoncé sold 828,773 copies in only three days, becoming the fastest-selling album in iTunes history at the time. Unlike many albums at the time, Beyoncé could only be purchased or downloaded as a whole, which is what helped it earn its record number of sales. Certain songs could not be purchased or downloaded by themselves, which forced listeners to get the entire album and experience it as a whole, the way Beyoncé intended.
In addition to the 14 songs that were on the original album’s tracklist, Beyoncé included music videos to accompany each song. Music videos are nothing new, but her decision to make this a visual album contributed to the popularity at the time of the release and the popularity now. After her self-titled, Beyoncé then went on to make Lemonade, another high selling visual album. She was not the first to release a visual album, but her visuals were very popular and are even considered iconic.
With this album, Beyoncé changed the sound of pop music by combining multiple music genres into one album, sometimes on the same songs. Along with pop, there were elements of R&B, EDM, and different rhythms and melodies present in the same songs.
Beyoncé had a big impact on the music industry, and it had a huge influence on culture as well. This album was just different. Through her music and performances, Beyoncé made statements about gender equality. Her song ***Flawless featured almost a minute of a TEDx talk about feminism, given by Nigerian writer Chimamande Ngozi Adichie. Even with this unusual addition to the song, ***Flawless became one of the more well-known songs on the album, popularizing the terms “Flawless” and “I woke up like this.” The album’s best selling song, Drunk in Love, is known for the term “surfboard.” Chances are, if you say surfboard the way she does in the song, people will get your reference.
Beyoncé’s influence on the music industry 17 years after the release of her debut solo album, Dangerously in Love is incredible. Her self-titled album changed the game forever, and she continues to release groundbreaking content that is revered by many.