For her first Coachella performance as headliner, Beyoncé took to the stage and embarked on a set that not only served as a retrospective of her 20-year career but also an exploration of college life at historically black colleges and universities. Most of the show, coming in at just under two hours, was backed by a live marching band that brought a different flare to the Lemonade singer’s music. And while Beyoncé herself gave no indication that an album with this same sound is on its way, one Twitter user was already hard at work on an alternative solution.
“It took me six or seven hours,” Tennessee-based Cornelius Lyons, a 17-year-old high school student graduating this May, told Motherboard in an interview Thursday. Lyons operates the Twitter account BeyReleases and through it distributes edited audio and video of popular Beyoncé performances, most recently her Coachella set. “I stayed up the night before I released it until 1 in the morning working on that audio. Then when I got home from school I worked on it some more.”
To make a recording, Lyons uses apps like Audacity, WonderShare, as well as screen capture and anything else that he may find to turn out high quality audio and video. “I will try to cut it up and amplify it for the audio,” he said. “I really try to get all of the white noise out of it and all of the skips from if the stream jumps. It takes a long time.” Sometimes the process can take just 30 minutes, but that can stretch into hours for the more difficult recordings.
“The reason Coachella took such a long time for me to release was because there were so many skips during the stream,” he said. “I’m honestly still not satisfied with the audio; it’s not where I think it should be.” But after all that effort, the video and audio were both been removed from Twitter due to copyright claims.
Beyoncé and her company Parkwood Entertainment have never pulled Lyons’ releases. If they did, he said he wouldn’t be upset, as that would likely mean they had plans to release them officially. But with his Beychella content, the festival itself did have the releases taken down twice.
Longtime Beyoncé fans may recall a time when the “***Flawless” singer would release her own live albums. She has dropped four to date, including recordings of her “Beyoncé Experience” and her “I Am…” tours. But that ended in 2010. So in 2015, when Lyons was 15 years old, he figured he’d try his own hand at it, following the star’s performance at Made in America over her birthday weekend that year.
“I knew I had the skills and there was no way else to get the live album,” Lyons explained. “The BeyHive, [Beyoncé’s fan base], would always complain about not having the music so I just made this to release the material to help them in supporting Beyoncé.”
He initially released that first audio on his existing fan page @BeyUpdate, but at a follower’s suggestion he created a new handle, @BeyReleases. Since then, he has dropped 52 albums including recordings of “The Formation World Tour,” and her 2016 Video Music Awards performance and more. Along the way he has racked up over 15,000 followers.
“My mom is always asking me, ‘what are you doing?’ and I have to tell her I’m working on this audio,” he said. “She’s always so tired of hearing the same song over and over because I have to listen to it like 1,000 times.”
While a majority of the work is done solely by Lyons, he does outsource one part of it: the graphics. “I’m not a really good Photoshop-er but [Tyler Simien’s] graphics are sickening.” Simien runs the page @BeyEditz and does all of the album covers for Lyons’s materials.
After multiple requests from fans hoping to show their gratitude for his hard work, the teen has set up and shared a Paypal account. Next up: a website. When it’s completed, the site will hold all of the releases, a comment section for feedback and a functionality for fans to submit request.
“I’ll do anything,” Lyons said. “The only thing I don’t release is her official releases because you should go buy that or listen on TIDAL.”