UPDATE 3: Industry sources says that the $15.99 album sold 80,000+ in its first 3 hours and 550,000 by the end of the day on Satueday. The album is trending to #1 on Billboard and will likely sell more than 600,000 when that chart's next top 10 is announced on Wednesday, Dec. 18.
Just before midnight (ET) last night, Beyonce released her 5th album exclusively on iTunes. Collaborators on this self-titled "exclusive visual album" include Jay Z, Drake, Frank Ocean and daughter Blue Ivy. This, her first since 2011, arrived without any prior announcement, priced at $15.99 and with no ala carte downloads available until December 20th.
Every song on the 14 track and 17 video collection is accompanied by a video, all of which are also available on iTunes. "Grown Woman," a promo video used during Beyonce' recent world tour is included as a bonus.
In the press release announcing the release, Beyonce said that she "didn't want to release my music the way I've done it" and wanted the album to come out when it was ready directly to her fans.
The release strategy is also an attempt to fight pre-release piracy:
“For an artist who has been the target of leaks, this is a fully designed preventative plan...
That the album is available on the day the world is learning about its release is an unprecedented strategic move by the artist to deliver music and visual content directly to her fans when she wants to and how she wants to, with no filter...
This unique approach allows music fans to be the first to listen, view, engage and form their own opinions void of any middleman. In the age of social media and an insatiable appetite for direct communication, this is the answer to the question asked over and over again, when is Beyoncé’s next album coming?… Stripped of gimmicks, teasers and marketing campaigns, this project is truly about art before hype.”