Sunday, April 21, 2024

Beyonce Ditches Sony Music, Columbia Records for Disney Plus After 22 Years to Release Surprise “Visual” Album


From the looks of things this morning, Beyonce has ditched Sony Music and Columbia Records for Disney’s TV Plus service.

In a press release, Beyonce says she’s releasing a visual album called “Black is King” on July 31st via Disney Plus. Beyonce’s been with Sony-Columbia since the release in 1998 of the first Destiny’s Child album. The press release very specifically mentions just her company, Parkwood Entertainment, and Disney. There is no mention of Sony.

“Black is King” is described as an album “based on the music of “The Lion King: The Gift,” and starring the album’s featured artists and some special guest appearances, “Black Is King” is a celebratory memoir for the world on the Black experience. Videos for “My Power,” “Mood 4 Eva,” and “Brown Skin Girl” are extravagances of elegance and soul. The film is a story for the ages that informs and rebuilds the present. A reunion of cultures and shared generational beliefs. A story of how the people left most broken have an extraordinary gift and a purposeful future.”

There is no mention of Beyonce’s current single, “Black Parade,” which has been a dud on the charts and radio. “Black Parade” is listed on amazon as “Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records.”

It may be that Beyonce has gotten around her Sony affiliation because “Black is King” is a “visual” album. Will there be a streaming soundtrack? Or a physical product? Does that even matter?

The weird thing here is that “The Lion King: The Gift,” which was an adjunct album to the official “Lion King” soundtrack last summer, was not a hit. According to Buzz Angle, to date– which is almost one year– “The Lion King: The Gift” has sold only 191,800 copies, most of which was from streaming. Actual physical sales and downloads have come to 14,400. It was entirely a vanity project, much like this one seems to be.

“Black is King” will generate a lot of publicity and have a big splash during its first week, but beyond that, it’s unclear what will happen. Beyonce is a trendsetter and trailblazer, certainly. Her “Lemonade” project remains tart, and a definite breakthrough. But there are clearly a lot of other things going on here. We’ll see what develops.

Here’s the trailer for “Black is King.” According to the press release, Beyonce wrote, directed, and produced it herself. No collaborators are mentioned.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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