The end of everything…or the beginning

So, Beyoncé Knowles releases an album without warning, sells a gazillion copies and makes a boat-load of money, and now some people are declaring that marketing as we know it are dead. Just like they declared the record labels dead when some well-known bands/musicians released their albums digitally by themselves.

These people evidently know nothing about how business or marketing operates.

Why did Beyonce’s “stealth album” succeed so dramatically? Because she’s Beyoncé. Because so much marketing has already gone into making her the superstar she is today. Because Beyoncé releasing a secret album is such big news that all the media splashed the story across the Internet in seconds. In short, she’s so big she can get her marketing for free. Whomever is her marketing director, give yourself a pat on the back for this one.

I’ll believe marketing is dead when Megan Stillman releases her secret album and sells hundreds of thousands of copies within hours. Who’s Megan Stillman? Exactly my point. You can only sell like Beyoncé if you’re already Beyoncé. Sure, things go viral. Videos on YouTube can rack up a million views in days. Unknowns can become overnight sensations. But they don’t sell albums in those numbers. Free stuff will always move faster than stuff you have to pay for.

But to sell 430,000 copies of an album in one day you have to work your butt off. And in Beyoncé’s case, a lot of people have been working hard for a long time to get her where she is today. That they were able to sell that many albums without spending millions up front is not a paradigm shift in marketing. It’s a small bonus for the over sixteen years of work and millions of dollars that went before it.

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