Ninja Beyonce` slicin' up peppers, circa 2000.
Beyonce’s current album “4” has had a difficult time commercially. Although it debuted at number 1 on the U.S. Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, its 1st week sales were the lowest of Beyonce’s solo career with only 310,000 units, compared to “I Am…Sasha Fierce” at 482,000. After more than a month, “4” eventually reached platinum (1 million copies) status. The promotional singles from the album, “Run the World (Girls),” & “Best Thing I Never Had” have had only moderate success. These results are a surprising turn for the usually chart-topping artist and many have wondered if Beyonce herself is concerned about the numbers. In an interview with Reuters Magazine, the pop-star discussed her approach to recording “4”: "This album was a labor of love. It was not about singles…I felt like the emotion, live instruments and just soul (were) missing out of the music industry; especially the popular music that's out. I wanted to bring it back to the music I grew up listening to. It's like a mixture of the '90s and the '70s and rock-n-roll." Much of music media has applauded Beyonce` for attempting to focus on the artistic side of things as opposed to concentrating on commercial appeal, but some fans are worried if the dismal numbers will have a negative impact on Beyonce’s career and have begun to theorize on why the sales aren’t stellar.
An often discussed theory on fan sites, message boards & blogs is that the absence of Mathew Knowles as manager is a profound factor. In March of this year, it was announced that Knowles (who is also Beyonce’s father) would no longer be her manager and that Beyonce` was opting to manage herself. Creative and entrepreneurial growth has since been given as a reason for the decision by the singer. Some commenting fans online have suggested that Beyonce` may not have the skill or the time to self-manage and is liable to make ill-informed choices that will lead (or has led) to the consequence of poor sales. “It’s difficult balancing the business and the creativity,” Beyonce` says as she discussed self-management with Reuters, “Having to balance the two is really hard and really making sure that I'm still doing my job, which is to be the performer and the entertainer and not have to do everyone else's job so that mine doesn't suffer; that's been a challenge…I'm sleeping with my blackberry, I'm having dreams that I'm answering e-mails, like it's that far!"
Beyonce` made similar comments during her MTV special “Year of 4” in June:
-“It was very risky for me to step out on my own.”
-“I have budgets to approve and people to hire, and a million things going on in the same week. I’m one human being. It’s a lot. Independence is not easy, but it’s going to get easier…As I get my team, it’s going to get easier.”
-“It’s very difficult managing myself. Every night when I go to sleep I ask hundreds of questions, but I’m learning so much, and I’m making mistakes and I’m learning from them. I’m not afraid to make a mistake, I embrace mistakes. They make you who you are. I’ve never been afraid to fall, and I say all these things, but now I’m getting tested.”
Management decisions may be the root of the awkward sales figures, but the reason isn’t known indefinitely. Promotion, sound, timing and many other things can affect the success of a single or album, but it’s clear that Beyonce` is sweating bullets over it. My opinion and synopsis? If I was Beyonce`, I wouldn’t sweat over it either. I don’t think the figures indicate anything about Beyonce’s career. “Run the World” didn’t work because it was melodically jagged and hard to sing along with. When songs are hard to sing along with, it’s hard for them to reach the top 40. Plus, the music was a recycled track from Major Lazor’s “Pon De Floor.” “Best Thing” has performed better on the chart than “World,” but has yet to reach the top ten. I’m not sure why that is, other than the fact it’s not techno-pop. The poor-charting singles are the only reason why “4” slowly went platinum, so in short, I feel the music being a cut away from the norm is the core reason for the sales. I feel Beyonce’s self-management is behind some of the last-minute promotion details, such as the day-of notification of the “Best Thing” video premiere.
In relation to her management choices, I have confidence that Beyonce` will quickly get the hang of self-management, and I would prefer her to self manage versus hiring a stranger. However, I’m concerned that the additional responsibility may be tiresome and overwhelming in the long-run and I think it’s pertinent for her to hire a staff to assist her in some of the duties. What do you bees think about her sales and management?
Columbia/Epic Label Group Chairman Rob Stringer recently gave an interview with Billboard.com, addressing the multiple rumors regarding the label response to Beyonce’s release of “4.” “The story about us being unhappy with the record and stuff is just not true…We’re really, really happy with it…the numbers are very good everywhere. We thought the record was great from the beginning, and some of the stuff that is happening now is vindication of it.” Since April, rumors have swirled that executives from Columbia Records (Beyonce’s home label) were concerned about the poor chart and sales performance of “4’s” debut single, “Run the World” and desired a new release date and reconstruction of the entire album, particularly after its 3-week early online leak. “We didn’t want the leaks to happen,” Stringer says, “but there was never any discussion of this album moving. It has always been that date (June 28)…there was never conversation about pushing it back, bringing it forward, changing the songs-none of it. Those conversations never existed.”
Looking at the multidimensional and massive marketing of other 2011
album releases, like Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” fans assumed that“4” would be packaged with loads of bonus features and other related products to retain sales. Stringer discussed the long-term promotional plans. “The main concentration for the next few months is to get this record working everywhere. The touring plan is extensive. The promo plan is extensive. We also know we’re going to put out a lot of singles and shoot a lot of videos from the record. There’s enough positive information that we think we can work the record for another 18 months, and hopefully over that period we’ll all be proved right that this is an important record and a commercially successful record.” “4”sold 310,000 copies its 1st week and debuted at #1 on the U.S. chart. Hopefully Stringer’s comments will put the rumors to rest.
ABC News has reported that Mathew Knowles, Beyonce’s father, will no longer be her manager, as stated in a press release given by her publicist (see story link below). This distresses me as a fan. Managerial and record label support is key in keeping a career thriving and stable. So many recording artists’ careers have been negatively affected as a result of struggles and disputes with their management, and they have had to switch management teams several times. I’m concerned that Beyonce` is opening herself up to that threat. Receiving unwavering managerial support is not an issue when your manager is a parent. Furthermore, that parent-manager has more motivation to compromise and settle differences because of their familial tie. Part of Beyonce’s success is her family owned/operated business network. The protection of family has kept her safe personally and entrepreneurially. This could get sketchy, but hopefully, there’s nothing to worry about. No matter what, I pray that all of Beyonce’s endeavors and business decisions lead to her success and joy.
1st Kelly Rowland leaves Music World Management in 2009, then Michelle Williams in 2010, and now Beyonce`. What gives?
What do you fellow "Bees" think of all this??
ABC news story: (http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory?id=13242890&page=1)
Seriously Beyonce`, WTH?!?
Most people figure out pretty quickly that I LOVE Beyonce`. She is my queen diva of choice. But every now and then, she does something that irritates or perplexes me. Here, I tell what's been buggin me about the Bee lately (with reviews and love for the Queen Bee in between).