Apple bagged the exclusive on the 14-track album, and says that in the three days since its release, it has topped the iTunes charts in 104 countries. Those three-day sales include 68,000 copies in the UK and 617,213 copies in the US.
Beyoncé released the album without warning on the iTunes Store on the morning of Friday 13 December, surprising fans and journalists alike. Its 14 tracks were accompanied by 17 videos, billed as a "visual album" by the singer and her label.
"I didn't want to release my music the way I've done it," Beyoncé said in a statement released alongside the album. "I am bored with that. I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans. There's so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans. I felt like I didn't want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it's ready and from me to my fans."
Music industry publication Billboard provided more details on the secrecy around the album in the weeks leading up to its release. "Lots of code names, for starters, and a shifting deadline that wasn’t finalised until a week ago," it explained in an article published on the day the album was released.
"Beyonce was still working on the vocals and production until the week of Thanksgiving, before producers started being notified of their final cuts.
Then late last week, final meetings were held with Columbia, Parkwood (Beyonce’s management company) and iTunes to finalize plans for the album, which was code-named “Lily” to avoid leaks. Another final meeting announcing the album to employees and producers was held at Columbia yesterday, Dec. 12. Only the most senior executives at iTunes, the album’s exclusive distributor until a planned physical release on Dec. 21, were clued in on the plans."
Beyoncé's album follows David Bowie's surprise release of a new single on iTunes in January, followed by an album later in the year. My Bloody Valentine also sprang a new album – m b v – on fans in February, selling it from their own website.
Streaming music services like Spotify are expected to get Beyoncé's new album sometime this week or next, as the CD version goes on sale.
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