Unless you’ve been in deep seclusion, you’ve no doubt heard that on Saturday, April 23, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter, (better known as “Beyoncé” to the masses) released her sixth studio album, Lemonade via one-hour special on HBO. For the first 24 hours, the visual album was available only on the streaming site TIDAL, which, coincidentally, is owned by Beyoncé’s mogul husband, Jay-Z (more about that later). For a cost of between $9.99 and $19.99, fans of the singer had the exclusive privilege of streaming both the songs and videos. Needless to say, subscriptions to the site increased exponentially.
Lemonade is now available on iTunes, at a cost of $17.99, not unreasonable considering the cost includes the videos that make up the “visual album”, and the songs that will be ringing in the ears of the Beyhive, Beyoncé’s fiercely loyal, often frighteningly protective band of super-stans. If you must have the CD/DVD box set, it’s available for pre-order from Amazon for the cost of $17.00. If you were planning on seeing the singer’s “Formation” tour in Atlanta, tickets will run you anywhere from $129 (in the nose-bleed section) to $554.00 (dead-center, in front of the stage).*
Now that we have the numbers out of the way, let’s talk about how the marketing genius that is Beyoncé is able to command those numbers, in a time when many artists are actually lowering ticket prices in order to sell tickets, and in an attempt to bring more fans out to live shows. There is really only one word needed here: drama. And Lemonade has more than enough drama to supply every lemonade stand from New York to L.A.
To put it succinctly, Lemonade is basically the story of one woman’s (presumably, that woman is Beyoncé, herself) journey from the moment she suspects her man is cheating, through the eventual discovery that her intuition was correct, right through to the acts of forgiveness and “redemption”. Fans of the two entertainers who make up music’s most financially successful and talked-about couples since Sony and Cher are no strangers to the alleged struggles the two have had with Jay-Z’s constantly roaming eye (and, reputed other body parts). He’s been linked to female starlets (think Rihanna and/or Rita Ora) to designers (think Rachel Roy—definitely more on that later).
There is no denying that Lemonade is yet another of Beyoncé’s artistic triumphs. The visuals are stunning, the music is everything we’ve come to expect from the pen of the top-selling singer/songwriter/actress/wife/mother/daughter/sister. However, the commercial viability of the subject matter is also undeniable. Beyoncé has a way of capturing the pain of love, and the emotions of betrayal like no other. And it sells records. Lots of them. And concert tickets…and merchandise….and…well, you get my point. She is also incredibly skilled at putting her finger squarely on the pulse of current events and creating music that functions as the soundtrack to many of her fans’ lives.
After her performance of the song “Formation” at this year’s Superbowl, a storm of controversy blew up around what some perceived as Beyoncé’s support of the Black Panther Party, the feminist movement, and black women in general. It was at that point, that anticipation for whatever she was about to drop began to build. After the surprise 2013 release of Beyoncé, the Beyhive was literally buzzing with nervous energy, wondering what was about to happen. The unexpected showing of the 65-minute visual element of the album did not disappoint.
From the first song, Lemonade is haunting, and some might even say “magical”. That word is appropriate because with each passing moment, the emotions that are conjured by the lyrics of songs like “Hold Up”, and “Don’t Hurt Yourself”, in which the singer advises her man: “this is your final warning/you know I give you life/you try that sh*t again/you gon’ lose your wife”, tell the members of the Beyhive that she feels their pain. She’s been through the same struggles with love, life, loss and betrayal that they have. Listeners identify with Beyoncé. They feel closer to her for being allowed to suffer with her.
When she ended the song “Sorry” by telling her straying lover that he “better call Becky with the good hair”, women across the world cheered in unison. And one woman, in particular, caught the wrath of the Beyhive. The aforementioned Rachael Roy, fashion designer and ex-wife of Jay-Z’s ex-business partner, Dame Dash, most, unfortunately, created an Instagram post that referenced the term “long hair, don’t care” at the very moment the Beyhive was in its collective feelings. Roy was linked to the famed “elevator incident” in 2014, when Beyoncé’s sister, Solange, attacked a surprised-looking Jay-Z, reportedly for being involved with Roy.
Of course, divorce rumors swirled and heightened for all of 15 minutes, and then….the “On the Run” tour, headlined jointly by Beyoncé and Jay-Z sold a record-breaking number of tickets, and became one of the highest-grossing tours of that season. See the connection? Meanwhile, Roy, after removing her IG post, and making her page “private” was dragged through the digital streets with a force rarely observed in nature by the Beyhive, who have been looking for an excuse to get after her since 2014.
I’ve said, several times that it seems the two super-stars are on the edge of a divorce just about the time one of them is about to make a huge business move. And really, who could blame them for taking advantage of people’s abnormally intrusive interest in their personal life and marriage? As I said, Beyoncé is a marketing genius. Her husband is no slouch in that area either. They didn’t get to be worth a combined billion dollars (that’s right—billion, with a “B”) without being business-savvy enough to take advantage of the nosy nature of voyeurs. People love a fairytale. They love to see it explode, burst into flames and disintegrate more.
You can have a front-row seat to the show. Sip all the Jay and Beyoncé tea you want. But be warned, it’ll cost you. $544.00 plus fees and taxes, to be exact.