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Beyonce’s singular business model

Kimberly Adams Feb 8, 2016
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 Beyonce performs onstage during the Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California
Matt Cowan/Getty Images

The figures are in for viewership on the Super Bowl, and Nielsen said the game and all the trappings reached an average of nearly 112 million pairs of eyeballs. Which is a lot, but down, ever so slightly, from the last two years.

Even more tuned in for the half time show, many watching for Beyoncé, who released a new song the day before the game. “Formation” was a surprise gift for fans, free exclusively on her husband’s Jay-Z streaming service, Tidal. The new song and game-day performance was topped off by an announcement of a new world tour.

“All of those things are playing into the fans who want that immediate gratification,” said David Bakula, senior vice president of industry insights at Neilsen Music.

Longtime music executive Johnnie Walker said this is just the latest example Beyoncé’s skill as a marketer.

“She’s able to sell not only music, but she can sell cosmetics, she sells soda…she sells whatever,” said Walker, now CEO of the National Association of Black Female Executives in Music & Entertainment. “And I think she also understands that she is the product.”

Walker said Beyoncé knows her core demographic and gives them exactly what they want. Plus, her superstar power allows her to tightly control her messaging. In a social media age, she can keep new songs — even entire albums — secret until they are deployed for maximum effect.

“Beyoncé’s vertical integration gives her far more control over all of the different content related to her that’s in the marketplace,” said Serona Eltonchair of the music media and industry department at the University of Miami.  Beyoncé-related content is “not going to be out there for people to enjoy if she’s not happy with [it], and that gives her a lot more control than many other artists have.”

Elton said Beyoncé is moving her music towards more integrated and immersive experiences for fans to draw them ever deeper into her broadening media empire.

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