In December 2013, Beyoncé managed to release her eponymous fifth solo album as a complete surprise to fans and the music industry alike, bar a small, trusted circle of insiders and digital partners.
Nearly five and a half years on, she’s repeated the feat, albeit with a live album rather than a new set of studio recordings. ‘Homecoming’ is a 40-track album of live tracks, released yesterday alongside her new Netflix documentary of the same name, which focuses on her 2018 Coachella festival headline set.
What’s notable about the album – besides the way it caught fans by surprise last night – is that it’s available to stream on a variety of services, including Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and the rest. That means no exclusivity for Tidal this time round.
Talking of which, Tidal is also about to lose its (admittedly long!) period of exclusivity on Beyoncé’s last studio album, 2016’s ‘Lemonade’. Variety reported yesterday that the audio from the ‘Lemonade’ film will “drop across all music streaming services” next Tuesday, 23 April, to mark its third anniversary.
You don’t need Music Ally to tell you that Beyoncé knows what she’s doing digitally: even if a live album can’t recreate the sheer shock of that 2013 surprise-drop, keeping the audio-release element of ‘Homecoming’ secret is no mean feat – as is her ability to step outside the new-music-Friday noise to own the midweek instead.
Spare a thought for Madonna, who will have been hoping to do the same thing with her new track ‘Medellin’ yesterday. Although in their willingness and ability to control the narrative around their new music, both artists continue to be role models for younger musicians.