As many of us were minding our own business in the wee hours of Wednesday morning on April 17, Mrs. Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter was preparing to come for all of our necks, edges, and lives with the release both a 137-minute documentary and concert film, titled Homecoming, AND a live album featuring songs from the concert, aptly titled Homecoming: The Live Album. And whew, Lord, I wasn’t ready. I. WASN’T. READY.
Both the film and album feature various components of Beyoncé’s 2018 headlining set at Coachella, a twenty-year old music and arts festival held in California. She was the first African-American woman to headline the festival. Her performance is masterful for many, many, reasons—it was so good that DJ Khaled famously proclaimed that “Coachella gotta rename Coachella to Beychella.”
The original performance from 2018 caused a frenzy of excitement, as I presume you already know. If you aren’t familiar with all of this….what are you even doing here?!?
Kidding, of course. Here’s the #BeyoncéHomecoming trailer if you haven’t seen any of this yet:
Beyoncé and her Homecoming were trending across social media for most of the day for all kinds of reasons. Think pieces will be written about Homecoming for days and weeks I’m sure. As I was watching all of this transpire today (because OF COURSE I was…), it made me think a lot about content creation and how dynamically Beyoncé was using and re-using hers.
Content creators like myself and many of you can take notes.
If you aren’t familiar with the term “content creators,” here’s a quote from Feldman+Weber:
On the face of it, a content creator is exactly what it sounds like; someone that creates content for [a] business. You can have various content creators, one for infographics, one for blog posts, one for videos, etc.
Their whole aim is to take your ideas and turn them into content that’s valuable for your business.
I want to share the top three things content creators can take away from #BeyoncéHomecoming and #Beychella:
#1 Create Original Content
First and foremost, before we even get to #BeyonceHomecoming OR #Beychella, we have to start with Beyoncé’s original work. According to Wikipedia, “Beyoncé has released six studio albums, four live albums, three compilation albums, five EPs, one soundtrack album, one mixtape, two karaoke albums, and 62 singles (including 12 as a featured artist, nine promotional singles and five charity singles).” She had a HUGE pool of content to pick and choose from for her Coachella performance, which did not feature any brand new content.
Content creators, we have to do the same thing. It can be SO HARD to post blog posts regularly, or record podcasts each week, or shoot that next YouTube video. But, consistency is important. This will give you a breadth of material to use later. Stay encouraged. Use automated systems or content calendars if that helps.
The point is, create enough stuff so that you can use it later. You worked hard to create that stuff the first time —put it back to work for you regularly.
#2 Chop and Screw (Remix and Repurpose) Your Original Content
Ya’ll know Beyoncé is from Houston, the home of chopping and screwing, in which a song is remixed in a way that slows down and changes/distorts the original. With #Beychella, Beyoncé took her original songs—and songs of other artists—and remixed them in really interesting ways.
You could tell any given song was the original but different. She performed many of the songs with HBCU marching band arrangements behind them. One of my favorites is the Diva/Everybody Mad part of the show. Check it out (at least until YouTube makes whoever posted this take it down):
Similarly, the rest of us content creators have to do the same thing. Yes, it sucks to create brand new content all the time. One way to break up the monotony if this is to re-use your old stuff. Cut up your 10 minute videos into 60 blocks for Instagram. Create a treasure trove of #TBT and #FBF posts. Repost old blog posts with new or updated lessons. Much of what we do goes around and comes around and we can leverage our past creative content in all kinds of ways.
As a part 2b—the strategy of releasing both the Netflix special AND the album of songs was a really smart move. I actually had a long commute this morning along may back roads with terrible cell phone service. I couldn’t watch the Netflix special, but I listened to the entire 40 SONG album on the 2.5 hour drive. This kind of release strategy allowed Beyoncé, Netflix, and the various streaming services to capture all kinds of old and new eyeballs and ears and drive all of us back and forth between multiple platforms.
For your own content, are there places where you can do the same thing? Certainly worth considering.
#3 Don’t Leave Your Culture and Personality at the Door
FINALLY, perhaps the most important lesson- be you all the time. Whether you watched the original #Beychella performance in 2018 or #Homecoming, one of the things that is evident is that Beyoncé did not want to come to Coachella, which has a distinctly white, bohemian vibe, and leave her blackness behind.
Instead of coming with her “flower crown,” Beyoncé brought the culture of historically black colleges and universities, black greek letter organizations, black scholars and feminists, and black entertainment norms with her. They even swag surfed, which is a common cultural experience for some HBCUs.
In the film, Beyoncé talks about how she wanted black culture to be shared, embraced and celebrated through her performance.
For many content creators, it can be a daily struggle to figure out how transparent and vulnerable to be with our voice and in our work. I used to struggle with this a lot more than I do now. Though I have some fancy titles and awards, I still get just as excited as everyone else in #BlackTwitter when Beyoncé drops a new project on our necks. A few years ago I might have been hesitant to say so publicly.
I encourage ya’ll (and myself) to bring 100% of what makes you unique into the spaces you occupy–that’s the beauty of having you in the room!
So….there you have it. Some great lessons from Professor Knowles-Carter about how to create and leverage your own content. Use it accordingly, students. Class dismissed.