What Beyonce Taught Harvard Business School

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When Beyonce self-released a surprise album and 17 music videos at one time, first people thought how, and then people thought, sweet. In fact, people thought it was also dramatic, impressive and yeah we said it—monumental.

Harvard Business School thought it was pretty cool too. That’s why Anita Elberse, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and Stacie Smith, a former student of Professor Elberse, co-wrote a 27-page report that like the album, just didn’t need any other words in the title aside from Beyonce. The study will be taught in Elberse’s course “Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries.”

Think about how many people are involved in the making of an album, let alone one single music video for a star as globally prominent as Beyonce. Why didn’t it leak? Why did the greatest internet masters have no idea Beyonce was going to make history before she did it? Elberse and Smith tried to figure it out, and have released their findings for us.

Details of the study, brought to us by Billboard, include interviews with employees at Beyonce’s Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia, as well as a few key players in the release—Apple and Facebook. Here are some key facts from the Ivy League:

1. Beyonce doesn’t sit down (often).
”[Beyonce] doesn’t often sit in her office,” said Parkwood’s general manager Lee Anne Callahan-Longo. “She usually walks from one office to the other, speaking with the staff.”

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Parkwood Entertainment/HBO

2. Beyonce used a house in the Hamptons as production headquarters.
In the summer of 2012, Beyonce held a producer studio month-long summer camp. “She had five or six rooms going, each set up as a studio, and would go from room to room and say things like ‘I think that song needs that person’s input,’” said Callahan-Longo.

3. Paramount just “avoided” leaks.
The report, unfortunately, doesn’t tell us how they kept it a secret. That’s probably because it had something to do with the CIA. What it does tell us is that Apple prepared the full Beyonce package for the surprise release, and met with Facebook to make sure everyone and their moms knew about the album.

4. All 17 videos were produced in a 12-week period.
The album was originally intended to release November 18th, but the final video wrapped mid-November and caused everyone to keep their lips sealed for a few more weeks. The Beyonce team also waited until the digital release to start the album’s physical production. For that they gave themselves a full 72 hours.

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