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
July 29, 2014 -- Updated 1650 GMT (0050 HKT)
LZ Granderson says the cyber-standing ovation given to Robyn Lawley, an Australian plus-size model who posted unretouched photos, shows how crazy Americans' notions of beauty have become
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
A crisis like the Gaza conflict or the surge of immigrants can be an opportunity for a lame duck president, writes Julian Zelizer
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
Carol Costello says the league's light punishment sent the message that it didn't consider domestic violence a serious offense
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1251 GMT (2051 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says saggy pants aren't the kind of fashion statement protected by the First Amendment.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1852 GMT (0252 HKT)
Margaret Hoover says some GOP legislators support a state's right to allow same-sex marriage and the right of churches, synagogues and mosques not to perform the sacrament
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1831 GMT (0231 HKT)
Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno say it's unacceptable for states to experiment with new execution procedures without full disclosure
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1850 GMT (0250 HKT)
Priya Satia says today's drones for bombardment and surveillance have their roots in the deadly history of Western aerial control of the Middle East that began in World War One
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1635 GMT (0035 HKT)
Jeff Yang says it's great to see the comics make an effort at diversifying the halls of justice
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Rick Francona says the reported artillery firing from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
Paul Callan says the fact that appeals delay the death penalty doesn't make it an unconstitutional punishment, as one judge ruled
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2225 GMT (0625 HKT)
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1533 GMT (2333 HKT)
Ruti Teitel says assigning a costly and humiliating "collective guilt" to Germany after WWI would end up teaching the global community hard lessons about who to blame for war crimes
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1850 GMT (0250 HKT)
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 2205 GMT (0605 HKT)
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1142 GMT (1942 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1853 GMT (0253 HKT)
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1637 GMT (0037 HKT)
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1413 GMT (2213 HKT)
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT