Beyonce’s secret album set to debut at No. 1

Posted at 11:13 AM, Dec 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-16 13:13:24-05

(CNN) — Beyonce broke some ground with her straight-to-iTunes surprise album, and now she is also reaping the benefits of her strategy.

According to Billboard, the self-titled album “is all but guaranteed a No. 1 debut.”

On Monday, iTunes announced the album has become the fast-selling worldwide on its site “with an unprecedented 828,773 albums sold in just its first three days.” “Beyoncé,” which is the superstar’s fifth studio album, also broke iTunes’ first-week sales record in the United States, with more than 600,000 copies sold.

Billboard’s Keith Caulfield notes such sales are a huge achievement given that the album has only been available for a few days.

“All of (Beyonce’s) previous albums were released on a Tuesday, the traditional day when albums are released each week,” he writes. “Thus, a Tuesday release would receive six days of sales in their debut week. But, since ‘Beyonce’ dropped at midnight on a Friday, its sales are more staggering, since they are just from a little more than three days.”

The release may be the singer’s biggest debut to date. Her most successful first week performance so far was her second album, “B’Day,” which debuted at No. 1 with 541,000 sold in 2006, according to SoundScan.

“Game changer” has been a much used term with both Beyonce’s “visual album” and the way in which it was released. With 14 songs and 17 music videos, “Beyonce” was released on iTunes with no fanfare or marketing push — just a social media announcement that it had arrived.

The way Beyonce was able to leverage social media while also keeping the digital project a secret means that the singer’s latest is garnering even more buzz than it would have if it were a traditional label release.

“Firstly, the fact that she recorded and then released it completely unbeknownst to everyone means that the reception it’ll receive is going to be even more jubilant, more outrageous than it would’ve been, which is actually hard to imagine given the veracity and enthusiasm of Beyonce fans to begin with,” writes Dale Neuringer of the site Bustle.

“However, because there’s been no lead up marketing plan, you can bet your sweet Beyonce that everyone and their mother will be buying the album as soon as possible to see what the hype is about.”

Claire Suddath from Bloomberg Businessweek wrote, “The mechanics and philosophy behind the star’s album release aren’t groundbreaking” given that acts such as Radiohead have released albums with only a few days’ notice while David Bowie quietly released his first album in a decade via his website. The difference in this case, however, is that Beyonce is a megastar who could easily have the full machine of a record label backing her if she so chose.

“For a long time, the music industry was breaking down at the edges — an indie band’s album leak here, a free hip-hop mixtape there, not to mention the small but consistent drop in sales every quarter,” Suddath writes.” But when an artist as big as Beyonce begins to go her own way, you know the tower has crumbled.”

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