Learn From Beyoncé: 5 Ways To Promote An R&B Album Successfully

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Who knew that creating a successful top-selling album would entail ditching the ole’ rule book and dismissing the typical release of an album?

Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, synonymously Beyoncé, stirred up a commotion in the music world making the music cosmos realign when she secretly released her surprise visual self-titled album. Without notice & publicity, Beyoncé showed she “runs the world” by deciding to do things her way — breaking barriers and spearheading what may be a future trend.

At 12 a.m. December 13, 2013, King Bey dropped a bomb that would fuel massive excitement. Unexpectedly, Mrs. Carter introduced her self-titled visual album, “Beyoncé,” via a short 15-second clip from her Instagram with the tagline— “Surprise!”—but wait, there was a twist. The visual album was only available via iTunes download until a week later, Dec. 20, when it was unleashed in stores. The option of store purchase was not announced right away.

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The “Diva” instantly created a musical frenzy, making the universe “Bow Down” with salivating mouths to their computers and digital devices hungry for honey from the “BeyHive.” It was as if the nectar was sucked dry from their lives since “4,” her previous album, and they were anxious to taste that sweet nectar once again.

Fans went wild and even those who thought the 17-year veteran was overrated had to commend her keen stunt. The visual album, packed with 14 songs and 17 videos, created a pause in the universe making any other groundbreaking news subordinate the day of its release.

Let’s take this album as a play-book play by play.

First, let’s look at the traditional way of promoting an album versus an nontraditional way (Beyoncé’ edition):

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Now, let’s look at some statistics from the “Beyoncé” visual album release with no warning, publicity or lead single:

In just three days “Beyoncé” sold almost 829,000 copies internationally totaling to more than $13 million in sales just on iTunes alone. Fastest album to ever hit iTunes breaking first-week digital sales record for an album in the U.S.(Beyoncé’s biggest sales week EVER).

— Debuted No. 1 on Billboard Top 200.
— No. 1 in over 100 countries across the world.
— Release generated over 1.2 million tweets on Twitter in 12 hours.

Has Beyoncé created a new trend in music marketing? Is no publicity now the new publicity?

Culture is always changing and someone must be brave enough to depart from traditional ways to captivate and exceed old results and goals. If you dare—here are five ways to promote a successful R&B album learning from the release of “Beyoncé.”

1. Create anticipation.beyonce-beyonce

Anticipation is often an overlooked tactic that creates eagerness and excitement for your project; and creates an increased level of involvement or participation. The less people know about something, the more they want to find out about it.

How do you create anticipation? Do something where people feel that they must have it now—not later. Do something different.

Apparently, producers and Bey’s label, Columbia Records, were stumped on what direction to take Beyoncé’s music after her “4” album because it didn’t reach the success of its predecessor “I Am…Sasha Fierce .” Every time someone inquired about the progress of her music it was pretty much the same answer—“it’s being delayed” or “there is no set date.”

Whether done intentionally or not, this created anxious fans who were anticipating on hearing a solid date when they could expect new music. This effortlessly had fans on edge gritting on the enamel of their teeth.

Once the anticipation stirred and thickened like cake batter, Bey dropped a ‘birthday cake’ surprise—which is a form of anticipation within itself. For most artists the surprise would be the revelation of a short snippet of a track or an early release of a video revealing the lead single, but for Queen Bey, it was an entire album.

Once the anticipation is built, it sets up the alley-oop for a slam dunk reaction of “I want it now, I need it now, later isn’t an option.”

Here is where “exclusivity” comes into play. If you create something only available in a certain format, creating exclusivity, people fall into the mindset of wanting to have it now and wanting to be a part of that movement as if to say “It’s an exclusive and—I—have it.”

By only releasing “Beyoncé” digitally on iTunes (only available as a whole unit, singles could not be purchased individually), it made fans not only jump from the anxiety of waiting so long for new music, but because it made them feel “special.

Yonce 2. Deliver a ‘bang for the buck.’

Beyoncé made every penny of the $15.99 iTunes visual album download worth it. She exceeded expectations and presented us with a carefully articulated package which consisted of 14-tracks each with an accompanying video. Stretching our coins a bit further, Bey included two videos for the two-part tracks, “Haunted” and “Partition,” and another bonus video track, “Grown Woman” providing us with 17-videos total. Wow, Bey! Mrs. Carter delivered more than an album, she created an experience—a movie.

“I see music,” the 32-year-old diva explained in her part one of her “Self-Titled” documentary series, which explains her vision for “Beyoncé.”

“It’s more than just what I hear. When I’m connected to something, I immediately see a visual or a series of images that are tied to a feeling or an emotion…and they’re all connected to the music…and I think it’s one of the reasons why I wanted to do a visual album.”

“I wanted people to hear the songs with the story that’s in my head because it’s what makes it mine. That vision in my brain is what I wanted people to experience.”

Beyoncé filmed videos for the album within an impressive six month span between June and November 2013 in locations ranging from Paris to Coney Island in New York.

 3. Create a movement. Movement

When promoting a successful album, you want to create a movement that people feel they want to be a part of. Make it an event.

Soon as “Beyoncé,” was released, the “Halo” singer created energy around the album. Here are a few things she did:

— She released the beginning of what would be a five-part documentary series the day the album was released giving a glimpse into the creation of the album. Each part of the series was released between four to eight days apart.

— Made capitalized pale pink lettering on a black background (album artwork) a consistent common theme which took off past the realms of the album.

— Utilized catchy phrases or words from her music lyrics (i.e. “Surfboard” “Flawless”) that people caught on to and made them into merchandise with black crew neck sweatshirts inked with pink lettering.

— Created an Instagram Q&A where fans could post a video question with the hash-tag #ASKBEYONCE to ask questions about the album. Answered Instagram questions at The Director’s Screening in New York City Dec. 21, eight days after the release of the album.

Beyoncé took a risk and created this organic experience where everyone could be a part of to some degree. It’s almost like she created a culture that fans, directors and so many more could embrace.

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Photo Credit: Twitter/TraceeEllisRoss

 4. Utilize social media.

By now, it is a known theory that social media is a powerful promotional tool. It creates free publicity with the touch of a button in a matter of minutes—even seconds. More importantly, social media builds and maintains relationships. Without Beyoncé’s fan-base this effort would not have been as successful.

Social media bridges the barrier between fans and artists allowing them to have access to one another within an instant. Artists are able to relay information to the fans directly and the fans the same.

With Beyoncé’s decision to release her surprise album through this platform, all the Queen had to do was sit back and let viral marketing run its course.

Bey’s decision to release her album online and announcing it on social media logically made sense. It created a heightened level of convenience for the buyers as they didn’t have to travel to a store and everything was provided right at their fingertips.

Yoncé’s visual album beamed through cyberspace and had many instagrammers posting morning selfies with the tagline—“I woke up like this.” “Beyoncé” was shared, re-tweeted, commented, hash-tagged, liked and every other social media jargon you can think of. This is testament to successful use of social media.

Bey5. Do something different.

You can’t do the same thing expecting different results, right? You must do something different to stand out and make your mark.

“I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it,” states Beyoncé definitively. “I am bored with that.” She created her own script and followed her own rules. Sounds more fun, right?

Instead of creating anticipation by slowly releasing information bit by bit, she created it by withholding every detail. The surprise album even had a code name, “Lilly,” known only to those working on the project.

When creating the music videos, Beyoncé and the producers used ear buds so that the music would not get leaked. Music videos were candid and organic unlike the usually planned and thought-out music videos of her peers.

With no real promotion like ask-all tell-all interviews or morning show appearances, it was not until the album was unleashed that she did her version of promotional activities.

Instead of a buzz single before the project, her lead single in the U.S., “Drunk in Love,” wasn’t released until three days after the album on VEVO and a day later to urban contemporary radio stations. Beyoncé also released “XO” simultaneously as a lead single for contemporary radio.

To celebrate the success of a ground-breaking endeavor you must have an album release party. Most artists either have a listening party or a release party the day of the album’s debut at a nightclub venue. Taking the road less traveled, Beyoncé’s album release party was held Dec. 19 (five days after album dropped) at the adventurous Dave and Buster’s in Time Square right after her “Mrs. Carter Show” concert at Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center. She created a fun environment, appropriate for her electro-R&B album.

This is what you call different.

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Beyoncé successfully sold an album by rewriting the playbook herself. She elevated to another level of success by taking risks and letting down the outer walls of the complex layers of her artistry. She created anticipation, delivered a ‘bang for the buck,’ created a movement, used social media and most of all—did something different. Here she devised the menu for selling a successful R&B album.

Lanetra is a writer for RatedRnB.com and is an avid lover of 90s R&B.

8 Comments

  1. This could only have worked with an artist on HER level though, her playbook may not work with every other artist. but i applaud her and her TEAM for this amazing album and direction. She truly did something historic that people will talk about in 20-30-50 years to come. She’s kind of like the ‘Michael Jackson’ type entity for us.

  2. A nice article about Bey but she is not a R&B singer. Her music is more PoP/Hip Hop as Rihanna, JLo, but she is no Janet etc. In this era her fans may label her Queen Bey but the real Queen is Mary J and Real R&B Singers are Toni B, Alicia K, Fantasia, old SWV, Tamar etc…! She is a Good Performer but not so Good Singer.

  3. This is bad advice if you’re not “Billion Dollar Famous”. She doesn’t promote because he doesn’t have to and as MamaV mentioned, she’s not an R&B singer and never really was. She just did good on the R&B charts. Conversely Alicia Key’s used to be a bonafide R&B Neo/Soul Artist and now she’s mostly Pop. BTW I find that skin whitening cream, beyonce is using, disgusting.

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Beyoncé Extends HBCU Scholarship for Second Year

Beyoncé continues schoolin’ life. After saluting historical black marching bands during her history-making Coachella performance on Saturday, the mother-of-three has extended her BeyGOOD Initiative’s Homecoming Scholars Award program (previously named Formation Scholars Award program) for a second year.

The program will award $25,000 to one student from Historically Black Universities and Colleges: Xavier University, Wilberforce University, Tuskegee University and Bethune-Cookman University for the 2018-2019 school year.

Ivy McGregor, Director of Philanthropy and Corporate Relations at Parkwood Entertainment, which houses BeyGOOD, shared, “We salute the rich legacy of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. “We honor all institutions of higher learning for maintaining culture and creating environments for optimal learning which expands dreams and the seas of possibilities for students.”

Beyoncé launched the scholarship program in April 2017 to celebrate the one-year anniversary of 2016’s Lemonade, her second visual album. This year’s award program is open to all qualifying students at the four universities. The attached disciplines will include literature, creative arts, African-American studies, science, education, business, communications, social sciences, computer science and engineering. All applicants must maintain a 3.5 GPA or above. The universities will determine the finalists and winners, with receivers announced this summer.

10 Underrated Songs by Keyshia Cole

In February, we launched our new monthly feature, Underrated, with R&B legend Toni Braxton and her notable album gems as our primary focus. This time around, we are putting the spotlight on singer-songwriter Keyshia Cole, who is now a certified R&B vet.

The Oakland, Calif. native introduced herself to listeners in 2004 with her expressive voice and relatable narrative on the troubling tales of love and life. Now, seven albums into her decade-long career, the Grammy-nominated artist has a discography that has a few celebrated hits but an abundance of material that hasn’t gotten its rightful respect.

Take a look at our list of Cole’s 10 most slept-on records. We even share a love lesson or two about some of these records. (Sidenote: This list of songs does not include material from her Point of No Return album or her latest album 11:11 Reset, which she plans to repackage with three new songs.)

1. “Love, I Thought You Had My Back” from the album The Way It Is (2005)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Randolph Murph, Ralph Eskridge, Clarence Johnson Jr, Frederick Taylor (Writers); Ron Fair and Toxic (Producers)

For an artist who sings directly from their soul, being pitch perfect doesn’t normally matter. Keyshia Cole proved this on fan-favorite and one of her best post-breakup anthems “Love, Thought You Had My Back.”

Sampling “Love Jones” by Brighter Side of Darkness, Keyshia finds herself interrogating love for not holding up its end of the bargain after her latest love-affair blew up in flames.

Now that the relationship has ended, Keyshia offers a word of advice to listeners who still believe in a happily-ever-afters. “You gotta know your focus in life / And if love is your focus /Then man pay attention,” she says.

2. “We Could Be” from the album The Way It Is (2005)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Errol “Poppi” McCalla Jr. (Writers); Errol “Poppi” McCalla Jr., Ron Flair (Producers)

Have you ever wanted to take a friendship to the next level with someone? Keyshia found herself sharing those same feelings on this silky track off her debut album.

Over a slow-burning instrumental, and singing with unfledged vocals, Keyshia pictures a perfect life with a friend she wants to pursue a deeper connection with.

“If you’d be cool with me / You’ll see, that I’m all you need and all that you dream / And never would leave, you’ll be by my side forever / Swear to God we’ll grow old together, then reality would be you and me,” she sings.

3. “Fallin Out” from the album Just Like You (2007)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Soulshock, K. Karlin, Tammie L. Harris (Writers); Soulshock and Karlin (Producers)

After sharing the spotlight with some of hip-hop’s OG’s (Missy Elliott, Lil’ Kim and Too $hort) on the first two tracks of Just Like You, Keyshia takes on “Fallin’ Out” by herself and unleashes a bottle of emotions on the way things used to be with her lover.

Starting off with dramatic strings, and a sizzling sound effect, the R&B veteran dwindles out of love with a man who isn’t who she first fell in love with. “I remember when, I’d be with my friends / You checked on me and made time to call / But how things have changed? — now I don’t hear from you at all,” she sings.

Many critics have deeded Keyshia Cole’s Just Like You album a daughter to Mary J Blige’s personal My Life album. This opinion holds some weight as “Fallin’ Out” slightly mirrors Rose Royce’s “I’m Goin’ Down,” which was made popular in the ‘90s by Blige. Keyshia’s song, however, takes a far deeper lyrical approach than Blige’s bluesy rendition.

4. “Give Me More” from the album Just Like You (2007)

Credits: Keyshia Cole and Scott Storch (Writers); Scott Storch (Producer)

Come through, drums! With producer Scott Storch still blazing, Keyshia called on him to bring the bass and co-pen this mid-tempo banger.

On the retro track, Keyshia thought she found someone special, but she was sadly mistaken when he started playing games with her heart. After experiencing a breakup, she requires a little “more” from her next man.

“Give Me More” allows Storch to put his musicianship on display as he lets loose with an electric guitar towards the end of the track.

5. “Erotic” from the album A Different Me (2008)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Ron Fair, Theron Feemster (Writers); “THE-RON” Feemster (Additional Production by Ron Fair) (Producer)

Following the multiple Grammy nominations for her Just Like You album, Keyshia decided to make a drastic artistic shift, leaning more towards a universal sound for her follow-up, A Different Me.

Backed by an eerie sci-fi production, “Erotic” begins with a weird message from an unidentified life form. Don’t press skip though. Keyshia owns her experimental journey, as she shifts vocally like a five-speed sports car in-between the lanes of the futuristic beat.

6. “This is Us” from the album A Different Me (2008)

Credits: E. Bogart, V. Horn, J.T. Miller (Writers); Ron Fair and Jason T. Miller (Producers)

If there was one record from Keyshia’s A Different Me album that had the ability to reach a more mainstream audience, it was her country-inspired song, “This is Us.”

Supported by an acoustic guitar, a timid drum pattern and sugary analogies on an imperfectly perfect relationship, Keyshia showcased that she was able to tap into new genres of music and sound outstanding.

Allegedly, “This is Us” was expected to be released as the fourth and final single from A Different Me. Keyshia’s pregnancy probably played a huge factor in the failure to move forward with “Us” as a single.

7. “Tired of Doing Me” featuring Tank from the album Calling All Hearts (2010)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, F. Taylor, M. Quaham, D. Babbs (Tank), J. Franklin, R. Newt, J. Valentine, K. Stephens; Toxic**, Ron Fair, N8**, and Song Dynasty (Producers)

Keyshia is never afraid to share an R&B moment with artists she admires. She invites Tank to help her explain the emptiness of being alone after realizing the value of finding that special person.

In separate verses, the R&B General recounts his life as a bachelor while Keysh explains why she was hesitant about falling in love again. The two singers find a happy medium on the bridge, accepting that “doing me ain’t working no more.”

8. “What You Do To Me” from the album Calling All Hearts (2010)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Chink Santana (Writers); Chink Santana (Producer)

Caught up in the rapture of love with then-husband Daniel “Boobie” Gibson, Keyshia tried her luck at making some “grown-folk” music. She succeeded with this intimately composed ballad.

On the sensual track, Keyshia paints the ultimate love scene in her head about how her man makes her temperature rise. “I can feel you kissing me, oh so softly / Making love baby, I can feel your heartbeat / Baby, don’t stop,” she passionately sings.

She is vocally excellent on this song, using the right breathing techniques to set the mood just right for love-making. This record is perfect to play for an anniversary or a just an “I love you” moment for your significant other.

9. “Who’s Gonna Hold Me Down” from the album Woman to Woman (2012)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Kuk Harrell, Guordan Banks, Jessyca Wilson, Isaacs Hayes (Writers); BINK! Humble Monsta (Producer)

“Shaft!” is the immediate phrase that comes to mind when the funky instrumental starts off the track. Keyshia does Isaac Hayes’ “Shafts Theme” justice with this four-minute conversational tune on recouping after the dust settles from an unsuccessful romance.

On the BINK!-produced track, Keyshia uses her speaking voice to informally elaborate on the painful accuracies of how we repeatedly let our lovers hurt us but always managing to find it in our hearts to give them one more chance. Most times we convince ourselves we need them when we actually are better off without them. “When I’m with you, my heart skips a beat / Oh, I want you back I need you bad / But I gotta get over you, “ she sings.

Thankfully, she gathers feelings towards the end of the deluxe edition record, leaving us with a final realization. “Guess you gotta let that go / If it ain’t yours, it ain’t yours / You gotta let it go / I now it’s hard but you can do better,” she preaches.

10. “Next Move” from the album Woman to Woman (2012)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Kuk Harrell, Guordan Banks, Jessyca Wilson (Writers); BINK! Humble Monsta (Producer)

After a lukewarm response for her Calling All Hearts album, Keyshia came strong with Woman to Woman. Her hard work shows on this slow-paced ballad featuring background vocals from Robin Thicke.

Being in a relationship without a title two things: mixed feelings and heartbreak. To limit confusion, simply making the “next move” and asking the hard but seriously needed questions, “Are we going to be monogamous or should we just see other people?”

If we don’t have this conversation early on, we’ll probably end up like Keyshia does on the second verse. “I hate the fact, we never set the rules / So I can’t even trip when you want to act brand new / But I still get mad when you walk out the room / But the truth is: I’m not the only one loving you,” she painfully remembers.

HONORABLE MENTION

“Same Thing (Interlude)” from the album Just Like You

Credits: Keyshia Cole, T. Rey and C. Brown (Writers); T Rey and C. Broan (Producers)

Serving as a transition between songs “Heaven Sent” and “Got to Get My Heart Back,” this nearly two-minute tease makes us want to fight Keyshia. While she pours out her emotions about the redundant behavior of her two-timing ex, she indirectly plays with ours. This interlude deserved more. We wanted more.

Did we get this list right? Let us know in the comment section.

Follow Antwane @9thwonderofPR

Top 5 Songs from Chloe x Halle’s Debut Album ‘The Kids Are Alright’

It’s been over five years since Chloe and Halle Bailey released their cover of “Pretty Hurts” by Beyoncé. The video instantly went viral, racking up millions of views within a short span. Among the viewers was the queen herself, Beyoncé. Moved by their stellar performance, Bey wanted to sign the sisters to her label Parkwood Entertainment — and she did.

Since then, Beyoncé has kept the girls under her wings as she developed and mentored them into becoming artists. Known together as Chloe x Halle, the duo has finally released their debut album The Kids Are Alright via Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records.

“The title means so much to us; we’re speaking about ourselves as we’re growing into young women, telling ourselves we’re going to be OK,’ Chloe told TIME. “We’ll make mistakes and we’ll have obstacles, but we’ll overcome them.”

The Kids Are Alright is loaded with 17 tracks including previously released songs “Grown” from Grown-ish, “Warrior” from A Wrinkle in Time, “Drop” and “Fall.” The last two tracks also appeared on their Sugar Symphony EP. Chloe x Halle kept their guest list short on this album, limiting it to three guest appearances from rappers GoldLink, Joey Bada$$ and Kari Faux.

Check out our top five picks from The Kids Are Alright. 

1. Everywhere [Produced by Chloe Bailey]

At first listen, one may assume “Everywhere” is a braggadocious track, especially hearing them sing “I got money everywhere / Falling off the tree.” However, in this case, Chloe x Halle use ‘money’ as a metaphor to speak great things into existence like love, happiness and success. The trap-inspired beat paired with the catchy hook is what makes this track stand out.

2. Hi Lo (featuring GoldLink) [Produced by Pluss and Chloe Bailey]

Co-produced by Chloe and Pluss, “Hi Lo” is about accepting yourself — flaws and all. “When I cannot tell each day apart / Yeah I like it yeah / Freckles on my face connect like stars / Yeah I like it,” Chloe sings.

3. Galaxy [Produced by Chloe Bailey]

“Galaxy” finds the sisters sharing their views on a relationship that has gone sour. With lyrics like “Imma throw you back into the galaxy,” it’s clear that they’ve reached their breaking point and are ready to move on with life.

Halle adds, “You’ve been tryna’ break me / You’ve been tryna’ shake me / But like the earth, I’m steady / I won’t lose it.” Although the song is about a breakup, it will definitely have you ready to dance with its melodic handclapping beat.

4. Happy Without Me (featuring Joey BadA$$) [Produced by Adam Messinger, Nasri Atweh, Chloe Bailey and Halle Bailey]

Chloe x Halle goes back to singing about love on “Happy Without Me.” Despite throwing their ex back into the galaxy, there seems to be a part of them that can’t stand to see their past lovers in a new relationship. The song touches home for anyone who has let a lover go but isn’t ready to accept the fact that they may move on faster than they think.

“Bittersweet, those memories / And I see, you with her now / And it breaks my heart, and it breaks my heart (yeah) / And it breaks my heart to see you happy, without me,” Chloe sings. Joey BadA$$ shares the same sentiments as Chloe and Halle. “I wish the feelings would just go away / I still be thinkin’ ’bout you to this day,” he raps.

5. Cool People [Produced by Malay Ho]

Moving on a relationship isn’t always easy. “Cool People” gives hope to the brokenhearted. The emotional track is about finding a new love interest after being down on love for so long. “Cause darling when you smile it’s like the rain dries out / Now there’s no more room for clouds / Got me singing Hallelu, ah Hallelu oh / When you hold my hand it just reminds me of, there’s still cool people in the world,” they sing.

To be honest, creating this list was hard! The entire album is a solid body of work — from the colorful lyrics and refreshing production to the mesmerizing vocals! Stream it below for yourself.

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