Surprise! Beyoncé just released her new album Lemonade, putting an end to speculation that began in earnest when she released the single "Formation" a day before performing as part of the Super Bowl halftime show. The release of Lemonade comes minutes after Beyonce's HBO special of the same name — which turned out to be a visual album — finished airing. It's her sixth studio album and first since 2013's celebrated Beyoncé, an album she released without any promotion or warning in December of that year. Lemonade is exclusively available on Tidal.
"Formation" sparked a firestorm on social media when it was released on Tidal on February 6th, and Beyoncé used her time on the Super Bowl stage alongside Coldplay and Bruno Mars to share the song with the largest possible audience. (The song ultimately failed to crack Billboard's top 100 singles, a consequence of the limited release strategy Beyoncé employed.) An accompanying world tour was announced just after the performance finished, all but confirming a new album was on the horizon.
Lemonade only has a handful of features, with Jack White, The Weeknd, James Blake, and Kendrick Lamar making appearances on the album. The 12-track album is Beyoncé's second "visual album" and the first time she has released a solo album without actually putting it up for sale — at least for now. No artist as big as Beyoncé has ever made their album solely available through streaming at release, (Kanye West was the biggest artist up until now) giving Lemonade a strong chance to shatter all current streaming records.
Exclusive streaming releases normally last a week for most artists, but Beyoncé isn't most artists. It'll be interesting to see if and how Beyoncé decides to sell Lemonade. Tidal — which she owns a large stake in with her husband Jay Z — has a digital store that can sell the album, or she could sell it on Beyoncé.com, or even potentially on Tidal's direct enemy iTunes. With so many fans around the world clamoring for the latest album from one of the world's biggest stars, including in countries Tidal currently doesn't operate in, it's likely that Lemonade will be for sale in the coming weeks.