Beyonce’s fifth album has broken iTunes sales records, with 828,773 copies sold in just three days.
The majority of those sales came in the US, where it has racked up 617,213 sales since its release on Friday.
The tally broke Beyonce’s own first-week sales record, set by her second album B’day in 2006, which sold 541,000 copies across a full seven days.
Beyonce stealth-released the record exclusively on iTunes last Friday, surprising fans by unveiling 14 new songs and 17 videos without the usual build-up of radio play, marketing and magazine interviews.
Its success has been fuelled by a number of factors: By keeping the project secret, the star avoided leaks; while the inability to purchase individual tracks online meant fans had no choice but to pay for the whole album.
Beyonce, 31, said the “visual album” was inspired by her memories of watching Michael Jackson’s Thriller video premiere in 1983.
The album was codenamed “Lily” by staff at her record label, Columbia, to avoid rumors spreading, and even key creative staff were kept in the dark about the release plans.
Reviews for the album were largely positive, with Billboard magazine praising Beyonce’s “creative audacity”.
Apple, which runs the iTunes store, said the album had broken its previous first-week sales record, set by Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience when it sold 580,000 in March.
The company has exclusive access to the album for a short period – thought to be a week. Physical copies of the record are expected in shops before Christmas.
Beyonce also went to number one in 104 countries, it reported.
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