Harvard to Publish Case Study on the Business of Being Beyonce

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Beyonce Photo via Facebook

If you’re a normal American and/or a human interested in all things royalty, you’ve probably once wondered what it’s like being Beyonce. But lucky for us Boston folk, some wicked smaht kids are here to tell us.

According to the Harvard Gazette, Harvard Business School is publishing a case study next week that examines the business of being Beyonce.

After dropping a surprise, completely un-marketed self-titled album last December including 14 songs with 17 accompanying music videos, Beyonce’s dubbed “visual album” was the first of its kind.

Beyonce’s self-titled album sold more than 600,000 copies on iTunes within the first three days of its release. She secretly partnered with Apple, Facebook, and Instagram to roll out a huge artistic and business gamble. None of her songs were available as singles, and buyers had to purchase the whole collection—videos and all.

Beyonce is obviously one of the most influential people in the music industry today, and Harvard’s case study will look at “what it took to pull off the ambitious and costly campaign, the prevailing marketing conditions, the structural and technical obstacles, as well as the many difficult decisions Beyonce and her management team confronted along the way.”

Anita Elberse, the Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at HBS co-wrote the study with a former student. Elberse will teach the case in her course “Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries” next month.

Elberse told the Gazette, “You could look at the album and say, ‘How did it perform?’ But you also have to think longer term and say ‘What did that do to her ability to control the next release that she’s planning?’ or ‘What does that do to her potential as a touring artist?’ Those are harder questions to answer.”

To be determined by Harvard folks, I suppose. Stay tuned.