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3 Things Startups Can Learn From Beyonce’s Surprise Album Release

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Honestly, I have to hand it to Beyonce because gurl.can.werk. She pulled a fast one on the world and dropped an entire album on iTunes overnight. Literally, there is an entire album with 14 new songs on iTunes right now. What makes this album release so remarkable is that Queen Bey made absolutely zero announcements about it beforehand – no promotions and no hints whatsoever. This album is akin to a baseball hitting fans in the chest out of nowhere…if that baseball were made of gold and encrusted with black diamonds.

It’s a groundbreaking move, even for the Queen herself, but it’s only going to boost her brand and increase her support amongst fans. She’s taken an experience that often involves months of anticipation and has suddenly established a new precedence in the music industry (somewhere, Kanye is out there wishing he had come up with the idea first).

Bow down to the Queen.

Being a fervent follower of the Church of Beyonce, of course I just had to write about some key takeaways startups can learn from Beyonce’s surprise album release:

Don’t Talk About Your Secret Projects

If you’re working on a potentially industry-altering idea (or even just a really good idea), keep things under-wraps. While openness with your primary consumer or user is certainly important, not every new project you’re currently working on needs to be announced. Unless you’re removing a major aspect of your product or altering a popular feature of your app or product (things that could potentially hurt your customer base – you wouldn’t want to be Netflix circa 2011…or Facebook circa every time they make changes to their privacy policy), then maybe considering remaining mum. Don’t write blog posts, anticipatory announcement tweets (“we’re working on something great for users…”), or anything that could give any hints as to what you’re doing. Besides, if you have a strong enough base, additional features can really only enhance their experience with your product (and love for you).

Provide Something Meaningful

On top of the 14 tracks, Beyonce has included videos to correspond with each song. In a mini-documentary uploaded on her Facebook page, earlier today, Beyonce goes into why she recorded The Visual Album:

“I miss that immersive experience. Now, people only listen to a few seconds of a song on their iPods. They don’t really invest in a whole album. It’s all about the single. And the hype. It’s so much that gets between the music and the artist and the fans. I felt like…I don’t want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready. From me to my fans.”

Create something that is meaningful for your users – something that makes them remember why they fell in love with your company in the first place. Touch upon the human – all of the gushy emotional stuff – factors, and create an experience that allows them to tie your product or brand to something truly meaningful.

Drop It Like It’s Hot (Because It Is)

Think of every Apple event or product announcement. Steve Jobs or Tim Cook goes up on stage, makes the announcement that the iPad Super Air now comes with levitating features, and then the online store is immediately changed to reflect that announcement. What are they doing? They’re dropping that shit like it’s hot – because it is. They know that their new product is great; they know that their new features are great – so, it follows that these products or features are made available on the spot. Yesterday, an hour after Instagram announced Instagram Direct, I was prompted with an update on my iPhone reflecting the addition of the feature. Instagram Direct became available immediately after the company’s announcement; no time for proper critique or commentary – just an opportunity for users to engage immediately engage in a new experience. Hold off on announcing a new feature, then make it available as soon as you do announce it – the world is more surprised in that way.

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About the Author

Ronald Barba is an associate writer and East Coast reporter for Tech Cocktail based in Washington, DC. He reports on the Boston, Chicago, D.C., and NYC tech scenes. He's especially interested in venture capital, M&As, and tech/business trends. Aside from startups, Ronald is interested in philosophy, cognitive science, politics, social justice, pop culture, and all things geek. When he isn't mindlessly wandering Goodreads, Ronald is reading Murakami and Barthes, or alternating binge sessions of 'Doctor Who' and 'The Mindy Project'. Got something to say? Then email me here. Follow me on Twitter: @RonaldPBarba

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