It's been six years in the making and Beyoncé's seventh solo studio album Renaissance was finally slated to arrive Friday, but apparently, some fans are already listening after the project was leaked on Wednesday night. 
News of the leak broke after a fan in France tweeted that the album was already sitting on store shelves, two days ahead of its expected release date. Beyoncé's BeyHive swarmed across social media looking for the source of the early drop.
The leak came as something of a surprise as Queen Bey has become known for running a tight ship when it comes to the release of her projects. In 2013, she single-handedly transformed the music industry when she dropped her self-titled surprise album Beyoncé with no notice. Not only did other artists begin to move away from traditional album announcements and rollouts, but the standard release day for new music also changed from Tuesday to Friday.
Out, only a few songs seemed to be circulating the internet on Thursday. The tracks Alien Superstar, Church Girl, and Cuff It were among those getting listened to early. The 16-track album is available to stream and purchase — officially — at midnight on Friday.
Last month, Beyoncé took to Instagram to talk about what went into making the project and what she hopes fans gain from it.
"Creating this album allowed me a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world. It allowed me to feel free and adventurous in a time when little else was moving. My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. It was a beautiful journey of exploration. I hope you find joy in this music. I hope it inspires you to release the wiggle. Ha! And to feel as unique, strong, and sexy as you are," she said.
As for the leak itself, the bigger the artist, the more likely their unreleased music can be pirated, said Chris Mooney, former senior director of artist promotions and strategic relationships at TuneCore and current global head of artists and label services at Ditto Music, in an interview with CBS
"It can be accidental, but once the file is available online, any individual with a copy and a cavalier attitude can anonymously post and make it available to download," he explained.
Piracy could happen at several stages, from the moment the song is completed to the time it arrives on store shelves, and anyone with studio access, like an engineer, a band member, or a producer, can be the source of a leak. Record labels themselves can inadvertently be responsible for leaks when they send projects out to distribution companies like Sonic Arts Music. 
Outside of the production circles, when members of the press are given an exclusive for early assessment, this can potentially lead to leaks, and workers at pressing plants, warehouses, and even retail shops can all lead to tracks or whole albums getting out.