Beyonce’s self-titled smash hit debuted with no warning and no publicity and the singer’s new album was so secret at Sony music it went by a code name, "Lily."
Apple says the album is already number one in 100 countries and its runaway success has the music industry wondering whether the new publicity is no publicity.
At midnight last Friday, Beyonce posted a short video on social media, where the pop diva announced the release of her fifth solo album. The new album was such a closely guarded secret; even Beyonce's most die-hard fans were caught by surprise.
It arrived without a television
blitz. There were no leaked singles and no commercial tie-ins. She bypassed all the traditional ways of
generating buzz for new albums.
“I don't want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it's ready, and from me to my fans,” said Beyonce in the video.
Keith Caulfield, associate director of charts for Billboard Magazine, told CBS News’ Anthony Mason that “sometimes all that hype doesn’t necessarily work.”
“Sometimes, the less you know about something, the more you want to find out about it, and clearly people wanted to find out about Beyonce's album,” said Caulfield.
Throughout the weekend, fans lit up Twitter, with 1.2 million posts during the first 12 hours of the album's release. Even Katy Perry and Lady Gaga got caught up in the excitement.
Beyonce calls her work a "visual album" because each song also comes with its own music video.
“I wanted people to hear things differently, and have a different first impression, not just listen to a 10-second clip but see the whole vision of the album,” said the singer. “It was important that we made this a movie.”
Many of the videos were shot in public locations all over the world, before the secret album dropped.
“I think everyone that she worked with must have had an incredibly interesting nondisclosure agreement that they signed so that no one knew what was going on until she gave the signal it was OK to tell people,” said Caulfield.
The album contains duets with husband Jay Z and hip-hop star Drake, as well as a cameo by her daughter Blue Ivy.
With the album's immediate success, Beyonce may have forced the music industry to rewrite its rules for promoting and marketing new records.
“Not everyone will be able to do this in the future, but certainly, there are probably a lot of artists, a lot of A-list artists, and their managers and record labels, are looking to what Beyonce did this week, and seeing what they can learn from that,” said Caulfield.
Another way the album is different, individual tracks are not for sale. Fans have to buy the entire album on iTunes for $15.99. Apple says it sold almost 829,000 during the first three days and that's more than $13 million in sales.