Beyoncé, the self-titled album has been released by Beyoncé Knowles.

Beyonce Be Like - Beyoncé Releases Surprise New Album Exclusively On iTunes

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The self-titled album, released after midnight on the East Coast, comes as a “visual album” featuring 14 new songs and 17 music videos. 

The singer collaborated on the project with her husband , Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, Pharell Williams, , the Dream, Sia, Ryan Tedder and Frank Ocean.

There was absolutely no prior warning about when it would be landing on iTunes; though it was no secret that the singer had something in the works, between her Super Bowl performance and news reports about video shoots, never did she say that today would be the day.

Video: Beyonce feat. Blue Ivy – Blue
Video: Beyonce feat. Jay-Z – Drunk In Love
Video: Beyonce feat. Frank Ocean – Super Power
Video: Beyonce feat. Drake – Mine

According to the traditional wisdom of music marketing, that decision would be a terrible one: no anticipation equals no sales.

The traditional strategy was exemplified this year by Miley Cyrus‘ Bangerz, which was released on the heels of performances, singles, an MTV documentary, an SNL appearance and countless buy-the-album tweets. Beyoncé, on the other hand, only told her social-media followers about the record when it was already available for download.

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Beyoncé Album Cover Exclusively On iTunes

In a press release about the record, she described being “bored” with releasing music the usual way and wanting to release the music “when it’s ready” rather than on artificial schedule.

The album is  headed toward No. 1 on the Billboard chart and sold 80,000 copies in the first three hours after its midnight ET release.

By not promoting her album at all – no singles, no teaser videos, no street teams wheat-pasting in major cities – she made its release a surprise happening.

She announced the album, posted a “Surprise!” on Instagram and gave fans enough material to keep them busy for days. Then she dropped the mic. Thanks to whatever death-to-snitches plan she had in place, word of the album never got out and nothing leaked.

Even the NSA can’t keep a secret that well. In the annals of minimal-marketing marketing, it was a pretty smart move, particularly for an artist who is obsessively discussed on social media but engages with it selectively.

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