New HBS case study looks at the marketing savvy and tough calls behind star’s surprise 2013 album release
A new Harvard Business School (HBS) case study to be published next week examines what it took to pull off the ambitious and costly campaign, the prevailing market conditions, the structural and technical obstacles, as well as the many difficult decisions Beyoncé and her management team confronted along the way. With insights from top executives at Parkwood Entertainment, Columbia Records, Facebook and Apple, the HBS case asks M.B.A. students to decide what they would have done if they were working for Beyoncé.
“She’s clearly among the most powerful people in the music industry at the moment … so to understand the operation behind such a powerful figure is always very interesting,” said Anita Elberse, the Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at HBS who co-wrote the case study with a former student, Stacie Smith, M.B.A. ’14.
Elberse studies marketing strategies in the entertainment, media, and sports industries and has written extensively about the growing trend of hosting “blockbuster events” to grab the public’s attention. She says the unconventional album release and the very hands-on role that Beyoncé plays in overseeing her own business interests present a number of instructive dilemmas for M.B.A. students to consider. Elberse will teach the case in her course “Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries” early next month. “For instance, how did they keep that a secret for so long? It’s quite amazing that they pulled that off.”
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Beyonce’s unorthodox release was a huge success. Do you think any other artist could pull off that move?