Skip to main content

No stunt: Beyonce's sneak attack on the music industry resets the rules

By Teddy Riley
December 24, 2013 -- Updated 1955 GMT (0355 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Music producer Teddy Riley says Beyonce surprise release method sets new standard
  • The industry had used a traditional formula for new releases
  • Riley: Beyonce, however, just proved she is not afraid to try new things

Editor's note: Teddy Riley is a Grammy Award-winning producer, composer, recording artist. He has produced artists from Whitney Houston to Michael Jackson, with whom he co-wrote hits "Remember the Time" and "Jam." He created the new group BS2 Ft. Dave Hollister and just released their single "I Luv Her My Christmas Girl."

(CNN) -- The game just changed. And Beyonce just changed it.

The music industry has a track record knowing how to market the extremely prolific, gifted, inspiring, highly-credited icons. They've done it for years.

There's a formula: Put out a single on the radio first, then blanket the market with promotion, then schedule a big release party.

Teddy Riley
Teddy Riley

Sure, there are the legends who have created their own vine, their sonic signature sound,their own untraceable music landscapes -- The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley and the "King of Pop," Michael Jackson.

For those icons, the rules -- and techniques -- are a bit different. But none of them tried what Mrs. Carter just pulled off.

When Beyonce surprised the entire music industry this month by releasing her latest album, "Beyonce," only on iTunes first -- with no warning, no other promotion, no launch parties, no advance radio play, none of the traditional pre-sale retail hype -- she showed how only a true star can break this industry glass ceiling. When it comes to business savvy, she just joined the lists of the greats.

Related: Beyonce's secret album set to debut at No. 1

The album quickly became the No.1 seller on iTunes, moving more than 1 million copies worldwide in just its first week. And, at the same time, she also released 17 full-fledged music videos.

Beyoncé surprises holiday shoppers
Beyonce's new 'no promotion' marketing
Beyonce and The Beatles big surprise
Beyonce releases surprise album online

This was no stunt. It was a smart and honest way to let the fans decide for themselves if they wanted the LP without major promotion and publicity. And, by announcing it first on Instagram to her millions of followers, it was a masterful nod to her true, loyal fans -- and they have responded in kind.

No one in the music industry could have pulled this off except Beyonce. Her global fans follow her 24/7 online, on the air and on social media. And, like Michael Jackson, her stardom keeps fans anticipating her next song, her next dance move, her next fashion statement and her next signature on the dotted line.

And she reset the retail music business, too. It didn't matter if retailers like Target -- who just announced their plans -- decided not to sell the LP that hit retail outlets Friday because it was released on iTunes first. Other outlets, such as Walmart (where Beyonce made a surprise appearance), have stepped up and will sell out before they can order their next shipment. Target's loss, Walmart's gain.

Related: Beyonce's surprise album: What's the verdict?

Beyonce is unique. She has shown that she is not afraid to try new things to reach greater heights, to change the game.

I am curious and excited to see what she will do next. As I've noticed on iTunes, this is just Part 1.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Teddy Riley.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 0112 GMT (0912 HKT)
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1709 GMT (0109 HKT)
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 2345 GMT (0745 HKT)
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 2134 GMT (0534 HKT)
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1951 GMT (0351 HKT)
Jeff Yang says the film industry's surrender will have lasting implications.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 2113 GMT (0513 HKT)
Newt Gingrich: No one should underestimate the historic importance of the collapse of American defenses in the Sony Pictures attack.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
Dean Obeidallah asks how the genuine Stephen Colbert will do, compared to "Stephen Colbert"
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
Some GOP politicians want drug tests for welfare recipients; Eric Liu says bailed-out execs should get equal treatment
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
Louis Perez: Obama introduced a long-absent element of lucidity into U.S. policy on Cuba.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1740 GMT (0140 HKT)
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 1600 GMT (0000 HKT)
The Internet is an online extension of our own neighborhoods. It's time for us to take their protection just as seriously, says Arun Vishwanath.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2154 GMT (0554 HKT)
Gayle Lemmon says we must speak out for the right of children to education -- and peace
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 1023 GMT (1823 HKT)
Russia's economic woes just seem to be getting worse. How will President Vladimir Putin respond? Frida Ghitis gives her take.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 0639 GMT (1439 HKT)
Australia has generally seen itself as detached from the threat of terrorism. The hostage incident this week may change that, writes Max Barry.
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 2020 GMT (0420 HKT)
Thomas Maier says the trove of letters the Kennedy family has tried to guard from public view gives insight into the Kennedy legacy and the history of era.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1456 GMT (2256 HKT)
Will Congress reform the CIA? It's probably best not to expect much from Washington. This is not the 1970s, and the chances for substantive reform are not good.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 2101 GMT (0501 HKT)
From superstorms to droughts, not a week goes by without a major disruption somewhere in the U.S. But with the right planning, natural disasters don't have to be devastating.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Would you rather be sexy or smart? Carol Costello says she hates this dumb question.
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 2253 GMT (0653 HKT)
A story about Pope Francis allegedly saying animals can go to heaven went viral late last week. The problem is that it wasn't true. Heidi Schlumpf looks at the discussion.
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Democratic leaders should wake up to the reality that the party's path to electoral power runs through the streets, where part of the party's base has been marching for months, says Errol Louis
December 13, 2014 -- Updated 2123 GMT (0523 HKT)
David Gergen: John Brennan deserves a national salute for his efforts to put the report about the CIA in perspective
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 1426 GMT (2226 HKT)
Anwar Sanders says that in some ways, cops and protesters are on the same side
December 11, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
A view by Samir Naji, a Yemeni who was accused of serving in Osama bin Laden's security detail and imprisoned for nearly 13 years without charge in Guantanamo Bay
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 1738 GMT (0138 HKT)
S.E. Cupp asks: How much reality do you really want in your escapist TV fare?
ADVERTISEMENT