I don’t think Harvard is ready for this jelly…

As part of a study, students at the elite Harvard Business School were recently asked to research the success of Beyoncé, the bootylicious singer’s surprise eponymous album. Its release shocked iTunes users last year by debuting with zero warning or marketing.

The secrecy and success of the mammoth “visual album” is a marketing marvel. Including 14 songs and 17 companion videos, it went on to become one of the singer’s most lucrative and critically-lauded albums, praised for its artistic gambles, dark complexity and empowered feminist undertones.

Proving that word of mouth is the best marketing, it debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, became the fastest-selling album in iTunes history and has since sold 3 million copies worldwide. Its 5 singles, “XO”, “Drunk in Love”, “Partition”, “Pretty Hurts” and “Flawless,” also had considerable airplay.

The HBS study, to be released sometime this week, seeks to answer how such an operation was pulled off, how word never got out and how the album became such a megahit. M.B.A. participants are also to offer insight into the current digital music marketplace and detail what they would have done if they were to have worked on Queen B’s team.

The study, a fierce departure for a traditional institution, is jumping on a bandwagon of pop culture-derived academics. Georgia Regents University in Augusta, Georgia now offers a course on Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore album Kid m.A.A.d city while Rutgers offers a class entitled “Feminist Perspectives: Politicizing Beyoncé.”

Watch Drunk in Love below:


Thomas Freeman is Texas-transplant and aspiring journalist trying (but often failing) to navigate New York City. A current NYU student, Thomas also writes articles and manages media content for 20to30.

Twitter LinkedIn Google+