changed the game in December 2013, when she released her self-titled fifth studio album without warning or promotion. The ballsy, mic-dropping move — the instant classic sold 80,000 copies in three hours — was so revolutionary that two brains at Harvard Business School have put together a 27-page study on the project.
Taking notes from the album, Professor of Business Administration Anita Elberse and her former student Stacie Smith named their report simply, “Beyonce.” The findings, which will be taught in Elberse’s “Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries” course, unearthed some secrets and details about the superstar herself along the way.
an early look at the Harvard Business School study on Tuesday, Sept. 30, offering tidbits from those in Beyonce’s inner professional circle.
The pages unveil information on the making of the album, detailing the mansion in the Hamptons on Long Island that the singer rented in the summer of 2012 to work on what would later become Beyonce. Industry producers and songwriters including The-Dream, Sia, and Hit-Boy spent time at the residence, contributing to the secret project.
“We rented a house for a month,” said Lee Anne Callahan-Longo, general manager of Beyonce’s Parkwood Entertainment. “Everyone would have dinner together every night and break off into different rooms and work on music. She had five or six rooms going, each set up as a studio, and would go from room to room and say things like ‘I think that song needs that person’s input.’ Normally you would not see songs have two or more producers, but it was really collaborative.”
When she wasn’t in the Hamptons and found herself back in her entertainment offices, Beyonce, now 33, was not one to relax.
“She doesn’t often sit in her office,” Callahan-Longo said, . “She usually walks from one office to the other, speaking with the staff. She’ll come to my office and talk to me, or she will sit in the back and give notes on projects we are working on.”
While she is known as a perfectionist who oversees every angle of her image and business deals, Beyonce’s true expertise and passion still lies in the music, Callahan-Longo said. “[Beyonce] has got a really good sense of the business side, but she doesn’t like to live there always,” she explained. “We often laugh about how an hour into a business meeting she will get up and will start walking around. I can see it then — that I’ve lost her, and that I have satiated the amount of business that she wants to discuss that day. I’ll usually say something like ‘Let’s stop. You are going to say “Yes,” but you are not listening to me anymore.’ She knows herself, will laugh, and say ‘You are absolutely right, I am done.’ Because at the end of the day she is an artist, and her passion for art drives her.”
When they reached the final product, Beyonce and her team had a surprise 14-track album, which boasted hits including “Partition,” “XO,” and “Flawless.” One reason the entire album was kept a secret? “Why not let a 16-year-old fan in Bulgaria have the same capability to judge [the music] as someone who runs the biggest radio station in the world,” Columbia Records’ Chairman Rob Stringer questioned in the study. “Beyonce has built that audience. And I can imagine the normal release process gets a bit monotonous for someone like her.”
This article originally appeared on Usmagazine.com: