Not content with being one of the most successful female artists of all time, Beyoncé is now trying to push the boundaries of how she connects with her fans. Her most recent album was released without warning alongside her ‘What is Pretty’ campaign, and still sold over one million copies on iTunes within five days. Going digital has clearly worked for Beyoncé.
Beyoncé managed to keep the album a secret between starting recording in 2012 and the surprise launch in December 2013. She released it to her 12 million Instagram followers over the social network with just the word ‘surprise’. Beyoncé said, "I didn't want to release my music the way I've done it, I am bored with that. I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans. I just want this to come out when it's ready and from me to my fans".
Within the album there is a track entitled Pretty Hurts that promotes her ‘What is Pretty’ campaign. To go with this is a microsite that urges fans to upload a photo or video to Instagram with the hashtag #whatispretty, capturing what the word ‘pretty’ means to them.
Beyoncé has used her ‘What is Pretty’ microsite to great effect. Separate from her main website, whatispretty.com encourages users to think about the question and gives them the opportunity to express themselves through their shared photos. By using a dedicated microsite, Beyoncé removes distractions from her main site and focuses attention on the issue of prettiness. Digital channels such as her websites and social media pages have given Beyoncé the opportunity to get closer to her fans - she feels that she can “speak directly” to them, understand what they want from her and occasionally surprise them. This is leaving Beyoncé’s fans, and a lot of other people wondering – what will she do next?