Superstar Beyoncé Knowles has shocked fans by releasing a new album of 14 songs and 17 videos - described as a "visual album" - on Apple's iTunes store with no build up, prior hype or promotion.
The album, titled simply Beyoncé, is an iTunes exclusive and costs £12.99 in the UK. Individual songs will be available for download on 20 December, but it shows just how much clout Apple has with the music industry now that there will be no CD or DVD version and, presumably, no way of purchasing the album on rival sites, such as Amazon.
The 17 videos included are full pop vids for each track, with a couple of remixes added for good measure.
"I see music. It’s more than just what I hear," said the singer.
"When I’m connected to something, I immediately see a visual or a series of images that are tied to a feeling or an emotion, a memory from my childhood, thoughts about life, my dreams or my fantasies. And they’re all connected to the music."
Naturally, with such a global star opting for an unprecedented release format and style, social networks have gone crazy. Twitter is naturally awash with comments.
"This is actually the best move I've seen from an artist, like ever. Best surprise ever," posted fan Laura Toggs.
"Only Beyoncé can release an album in the middle of the night, with no promo and put it straight on iTunes," wrote Bey & Blue Stan.
However, not all are finding the experience a good one. Thanks to an overwhelming response, some complain that iTunes is having problems coping with demand: "Trying to download the new Beyoncé album but my goddam iTunes is jammed," posted Becky Lidbury.
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