As a fan of music and marketing I’m really starting to love these surprise releases. They just do something to the music landscape. This marketing campaign was really spot on. This proves that if you have a strong fanbase and know who you’re fanbase is then you can really sell them anything.
On Dec. 12, 2013 Beyoncé forever altered the worlds of music and marketing when she dropped her self-titled album with no notice. There was no press run, no self-promotional outfits worn at award shows, and no anticipation for a new album from arguably the greatest pop star of her generation.
The advantage of doing something that hasn’t been done before is…well…that it hasn’t been done before. When an action is unprecedented, no one is looking for it. Subsequent acts have attempted to, if not replicate the entire process completely, at least use the element of surprise in the same way Queen Bey did, to varying levels of success.
J. Cole’s recently platinum-certified album 2014 Forest Hills Drive almost made it out secretly, until some eagle-eyed fans found out about the release a few days in advance. Kendrick Lamar’s album showed up like a last-minute house guest, not completely unexpected, but leaving his fans very little time to get ready. Drake tried his hand as well with If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late popping unexpectedly this year.
Of the trio of young hip-hop kings, Drake seems to be best suited to wield his command of this generation’s obsession with social media to market his music in new and interesting ways. If nothing else, his recent skirmish with Meek Mill proved that he has a keen understanding of how to communicate with his audience, serve their wants and needs, and translate the language of emoji and memes into prestige and, most importantly, dollar signs. In this post-Beyoncé world there is a blueprint to ratcheting up in the anticipation for a new project without supplying a release date or engaging in traditional marketing practices, and Drake has it down.
And let’s not forget Future, whose successful streak of mixtapes have swelled the Future Hive to a swarm large enough to power him to his best selling album in DS2. Let’s watch the steps to engaging fans in 2015 through the lens of the lead up to Drake’s project with Future, What A Time To Be Alive.