Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Beyonce: A Case Study

Last month the Harvard Business School published a case study that takes a look at the business of Beyoncé, specifically the secret release of her newest album. While this is focused primarily on the entertainment business, many of the questions they research are ones faced by arts organizations, small and large, on a regular basis. It was also interesting to see how this case study approached a single artist as a business and brand all its own, unattached to an organization.

I found the element of collaboration in Beyoncé’s project to be especially interesting. Obviously collaboration on this scale is possible only for large organizations, but it also highlights how these collaborations can be risks for everyone involved. It is also interesting to note the effect of “blockbuster” events in the promotion of an artistic endeavor. I can think of other examples of this in the art world (often involving celebrities) such as Jay-Z and Marina Abramovic’s collaborative performance at Pace, or the Whitney’s staying open for 36 consecutive hours to end the Koons show. We could compare these to the art “happenings” of the 60s.

The article itself asks some relevant questions: “Is a maneuver like this only available to superstar talent? How do record companies put together marketing plans and structure partnerships with their artists? What effect might the release have on Beyoncé’s relationship with companies left out of the launch, and with her fans?”

I also especially liked this quote:  “The whole project is a celebration of the Beyoncé Philosophy, which basically boils down to the fact that Beyoncé can do anything the hell she wants to.”

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One comment on “Beyonce: A Case Study

  1. Samantha Sobash
    October 15, 2014

    I agree with the author of the article that this situation begs an important question: how will this stint affect her relationship with companies that sell her work as well as the fans who feel out of the loop? Part of the anticipation of an album coming out and the release of singles is to offer the consumers a taste of what to expect from the album. We’ve all encountered albums from artists we support that are disappointing.

    I think because she has such a following, people will buy the album regardless but it will definitely deter sales in the beginning for people who like to know what the feel of the album will be. If we consider the yes, no, and maybe groups, she is solely counting on the yeses to jump at the opportunity to buy this surprise released album. This does in a way cross over to other art forms, I personally would definitely go see a new work performed by an artist I adore without knowing exactly what they are doing beforehand and there are underground pop up happenings for visual and performing arts out there. But this model is geared towards the yeses and leaves out the majority of the other possible patrons out there.

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