Gemma Styles | Contributing writer | Saturday, 30 April 2016

Gemma Styles: Beyonce\\\'s Lemonade Is A Masterclass In Online PR

Gemma Styles: Beyonce's Lemonade Is A Masterclass In Online PR

The Debrief: Lemonade raises so many important issues - but almost none of the coverage is about the music itself

Photo by Matilda Hill-Jenkins

A word to sum up this week online? LEMONADE. I actually haven't listened to it yet (I know!) - mainly because I'm a pretty loyal Spotify user and they don't have it. 'Get the free trial!' I hear you cry... but I was stung on Apple Music when I forgot to cancel it after the 1989 trial listening fiasco and I am not going through all that again. Anyway - without having listened to it, I've still been able to follow the hot topics, going to show that media advertising is overtaking the music somewhat.

The Internet, and particularly social media, has completely changed how a lot of PR works. These days it's all about making your hashtags shareable and drawing consumers in to make your content 'go viral'. With LEMONADE this feels particularly true - rather than your more traditional model where brands, record labels etc. push discussion of their latest offering through adverts, trying to get news outlets to pick it up, so that people will be talking about it, in this case we see people talking about it first, creating so much chatter online that the discussion itself is reported on.

There are sooooo many talking points from the album already: surprise release, cameo appearances, collaborations, police brutality, lyrics suggesting cheating, who is Becky?, racial violence, feminist messages. This is aside from all the celebrity input, a lot centring around Piers Morgan's critique piece, with Jamelia and Matt McGorry both weighing in publicly to oppose his suggestion that Beyoncé's message has become too aggressive and political. [Side note: I thought his whole piece smacked of yearning for a time when he felt more in control - on his turf having afternoon tea it was all fun and games but now the nice lady is talking about important issues... ask yourself why this makes you uncomfortable, Piers.] Rita Ora has been posting some intriguing hints (maybe) on her socials, people have mixed up Rachel Roy and Rachael Ray, nobody is talking about Jay-Z doing the cheating and Iggy Azalea does NOT like being called Becky.

The whole week so far has been entirely consumed by a storm of LEMONADE fever - and all the label really had to do was put out the product and watch the carnage unfold. In some ways this seems pretty great; the music and the visual album was produced and sent out into the world, and without an insane amount of marketing, everyone is talking about it. This is the dream for a lot of artists, I'm sure, who are making great music and advertising as best they can, but still not getting the coverage to make it big. The bit I don't like is that approximately 0.05% of the coverage I've seen about the album actually has to do with the content of the album. In this topsy turvy world of bottom-up media coverage, have we forgotten what we were even talking about in the first place?

The storm is showing no sign of letting up so far - I wonder what other titbits from LEMONADE are gonna end up under the microscope next... My job for Sunday is going to be listening to the album so I've actually got some sort of context to apply the quotes and snide comments to. Thank you, Annie Mac. 

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