Beyonce drops new album on iTunes: Fans, marketers gasp

With no fanfare and no prior warning, Mrs. -Z releases an iTunes-only album of songs and videos. But you're not supposed to do that, shriek the know-alls.

Yes, it's her. Beyonce/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

There's a way of doing these things, and this isn't it.

If you're a star, you're supposed to be supported by a hype machine that wipes the floor with organic palm fronds before you take a single step.

Then Thursday night, along comes Beyonce Knowles and shows the know-alls that you can direct your music at fans in a direct manner.

Without any marketing campaign or even a vague sniff of a planted rumor, Beyonce slipped a new album -- 14 songs and 17 videos -- onto iTunes.

Had she been sipping excessively at the Ciroc fountain? Had she been taking advice from extraterrestrials? Had someone from Apple slipped her a few hundred million for this exclusive privilege?

The artist herself merely issued a little statement, part of which read: "I didn't want to release my music the way I've done it. I am bored with that. I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans."

Yes, but it's one thing telling your fans directly that you had a bran muffin for breakfast and quite another to slip this veritable feast of entertainment down their unsuspecting social chimneys.

And it's all very well favoring iTunes in such a grandiose way, but what about those social networks, where tongues are permanently exposed waiting to catch a droplet of news from (the assistants of) their chosen icon?

Beyonce, ever conscious of the way we live today, posted a video on Instagram and another on Facebook.

One of her motivations, though, is interesting. As NBC's "Today" show reported, she has become a little tired of people cherry-picking one song and ignoring the idea that an album is an entity.

She said that she grew up in the era of Michael Jackson, where you listened to the whole album. Those who can remember doing something so odd will know that it was sometimes the bad songs that gave context to the good ones.

Moreover, if you listened to the whole thing, your feelings for individual songs would change over time.

I am waiting, though, for supposed experts and analysts to deem this method of releasing music a disaster, a miscalculation or, indeed, a threat to modern civilization.

The Daily Mail reports that many people -- professionals and amateurs alike -- have already remarked with wonder and awe at the sheer audacity of giving your fans a rather bountiful holiday gift.

It even suggested that iTunes had suffered a brief nighttime meltdown.

There is surely something far more remarkable than this supposed feat of derring-do: It's the fact that in a business in which everyone talks and talks and snorts, somehow there was silence until the event actually happened.

Now that is marketing perfection.

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