Beyoncé’s fifth studio album Beyoncé has broken iTunes sales records, selling 828,773 copies in just three days after its surprise midnight release on Friday, December 13.
The majority of sales came from the US, where the album sold 617,213 copies and has set a new first-week digital sales record, Apple announced Monday.
Previous iTunes record holders were Justin Timberlake with his comeback The 20/20 Experience album which racked up 580,000 worldwide, and Taylor Swift who sold 465,000 in the US with Red.
Beyoncé, the album, also marks the songstress’ biggest first-week numbers and will stroll to a No. 1 debut on Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart this week.
The 32-year-old singer’s digital-only album — which features 14 songs and an unprecedented, 17 state-of-the-art videos — arrived exclusively on iTunes without warning or promotion except for an Instagram announce when it dropped.
Apple also said Beyoncé topped iTunes album charts in 104 countries (out of the 119 territories in which iTunes is available).
Currently, users have to buy the entire album for $15.99. Users will be able to buy separate songs from December 20.
Beyoncé’s approach has been heralded throughout the business world as a revolutionary stealth-marketing move, one underscored by the critical acclaim it rapidly garnered and the social media response it generated.
Despite not releasing a lead music video for Vevo or YouTube, using brand sync-ups or any other kind of traditional media, the mother-of-one “visual album” dominated the conversation when it was first released and since.
Mashable reports on Facebook, mentions of “Beyoncé” spiked more than 1,300% for hours after the album dropped. Over at Twitter the picture was the same. The social networking site unveiled an animated map to demonstrate.
— Twitter Music (@TwitterMusic) December 16, 2013
Commentators throughout the blogosphere have marveled at the secrecy surrounding the album, in an age when leaks are the norm.
Lee Anne Callahan-Longo — the general manager of Beyonce’s production company Parkwood Entertainment, who released the album alongside Columbia Records — said:
“You have to be innovative,” she added. “The Internet has changed the game. You’ve got to look at how to address the fact that most artists’ albums leak before their release plans.”
“Look at where your opportunities can lie and that’s kind of how we approached it. We had a multitude of things we were trying to accomplish, some things we were trying to avoid, and this turned out to be the right perfect plan for us.”
To ensure there were no leaks, Columbia Records only began producing physical copies for retail stores the same day the album was released on iTunes but has assured the industry Beyoncé will be in stores for Christmas.
The album was codenamed “Lily” Columbia staff with plans made known to key creative staff only as and when necessary.
Buzzfeed reports, video director Ricky Saiz, who helmed “Yonce,” said he had “no idea” about the scale of the project until it was released.
“It was a complete surprise even to the people involved,” he said. “To be honest, I was actually in bed when I got an email just kind of saying [the album] was live.”
Meanwhile, Beyoncé has now released full videos for “Drunk in Love” and “XO” and was expected to be releasing the Pharrell Williams-produced “Blow” st some point this week.
The singer said her “visual album” was inspired by her recollection of watching Michael Jackson’s Thriller video premiere in 1983 when it considered an “event.”
“I miss that immersive experience,” she said. “Now people only listen to a few seconds of a song on their iPods and they don’t really invest in the whole experience. It’s all about the single, and the hype. I felt like, I don’t want anybody to get 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.”