Jordan Hayles is a videographer and sole writer of one of our favourite blogs, The STiXXclusive. He’s introspective, well-versed, unafraid to speak the truth and he’s pretty hilarious too. That’s why we’ve invited Jordan to be our resident male writer. Consider his pieces your monthly dose of testosterone.
When Beyoncé dropped her 5th solo, self-titled album, literally out of the sky, the first thing that was questioned was, ‘how would this fare for sales?’ It turns out that the dependency on a public marketing campaign wasn’t necessary for her to sell over a million copies in essentially the blink of an eye. In the new age of technology and the music industry being digital more now than it has ever been, using the internet and a loyal fan base to sell some records should come to people as common sense, but it’s taken a few people to truly try to ‘crack the code’ and it didn’t just start with Beyonce, but it’s not going to end there.
Everyone seems to be dropping albums all over the place because they want that sudden reaction from the fans that would generate instantaneous buys and downloads. Instantaneous is the key word because with everyone having a Smartphone or tablet on the go, they’re able to have easy access to just about anything they can get their hands on. To do their best to beat the internet leaks caused by people stealing physical copies from manufacturers, staying ahead of the game is what artists are taking into consideration, and when you look at how Watch The Throne avoided a leak ahead of time, and the marketing campaign that Magna Carta Holy Grail had when Jay-Z had an app available to Samsung users exclusively, there was definitely a trend starting when it came down to the way artists promoted their albums. The surprise tactic is something that is definitely going to be more common. All it takes nowadays is a simple tweet or a YouTube video out of nowhere that sparks anticipation, like more recent examples, Pharrell Williams announcing his album 2 weeks before its release, Drake tweeting out CARTER V to set off a buzz for Lil Wayne’s album to be released in May, and Kid CuDi dropping an EP 2 months ahead of schedule.
The thing is, this tactic doesn’t just work for everyone, but one way for people to not have to build a lot of anticipation (because this current generation has the attention span of 30 seconds) is to drop music out of the blue. The problem is that everyone seems to take music and forget it after a month or two before they move onto ‘what’s new?’ It’s one of the things that have taken away the luxury of good music with longevity, and when you have blogs of all types telling you everything that you need to know without you forming your own opinion, it doesn’t always guarantee the progression of quality music being accepted for long periods of time. The surprise tactic works for big names that have a large and loyal paying fan base; if Eminem had dropped MMLP2 at midnight on a random day, he would have still had the numbers he put out with no problem. What the trend will be is that artists are going to have more nonchalant interviews and Euro-step questions about a new album, because they could be finished one and next thing you know, it’s here a week later. Now, this is in the realm of urban (Hip Hop/R&B) music, and the rules are always bending and changing to ensure that artists are keeping up with the times. Living in a digital world opens up more creative ways to promote music, so this is definitely a trend that will be around for a while. There are different ways to build up an audience (touring, interviews, singles, and feature verses), so adding the element of a surprise album isn’t that far off, although I can imagine how difficult it is to keep so many people out of the dark. It’s happened a lot over the past year, and it only looks to continue, so in the meantime, fans better keep their heads on a swivel.
*Note: When typing in “surprise album” into the Google search engine, clicking on ‘Images’ will almost exclusively lead to pages upon pages of Beyoncé’s picture.
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