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"Lemonade" and the business of Beyonce

Kai Ryssdal Apr 25, 2016

It’s not a stretch to say that for as good an artist as Beyonce is (and she is), she is arguably a better businesswoman.

Even people who aren’t fans of hers probably know that she’s got a new album out and an hourlong movie to go along with it as well.
The music is streaming on Tidal, you can buy it on iTunes and the film is on HBO and Tidal. We talked to Serona Elton, who teaches music business at the University of Miami about Beyonce’s success.

On a scale of economic and cultural power right now, where is Beyonce?

“Well I’d have to say, what’s the top number of that scale? Because that’s pretty much where she sits right now. She is a force, and she’s very much a self-made woman. Now she’s got her hand in just about every aspect of the entertainment business, and she’s really in control of all of it.”

Beyonce began her career as part of the musical group Destiny’s Child, but her success as a solo act has made her a force of commerce beyond most other artists.

“Once you are that successful, your business relationships start to change, and you get to call the shots. You know, once upon a time when Destiny’s Child was a young act, they didn’t have that kind of control. But over the years as she’s built up her fan base, which translates into dollars, she’s gotten to a position now where the kinds of deals she enters into are all very unique, very customly written just for what she wants, which gives her a huge amount of say so about what goes on.”

“I think when she really transitioned from being part of Destiny’s Child into being a solo act and she just kept one upping herself, and you saw her get into fashion, you saw her get into more video content, it was very clear that she was unstoppable and that’s been the case for a while so she continues to surprise us all but the fact that she surprises us shouldn’t be very surprising.”

As for professor Elton’s personal reaction to “Lemonade”?

“I think it’s amazing, I think it’s powerful, it’s compelling, it’s Beyonce being as fierce as she can be, it’s really pretty impressive. It’s something that many young women aspire to have that kind of independence and be willing to use their voice the way that she does.”

How did the internet react? Here are some tweets responding to “Lemonade:”

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