A few weeks ago, we discussed the pitfalls of music marketing and how it’s ruining the fan experience. In the fast-paced music industry, new developments on the matter have already arisen. It appears my warning was heeded by an extremely prominent musician, otherwise known as Beyonce. While I have no reason to believe that the aforementioned article wasn’t the primary inspiration for the pop star’s cunning chess move, the release still marked a changing climate in the way artists approach their work.
Music Marketing Campaigns; Enough Already!
Unless you’re a cave-dweller, the year of 2013 in popular music likely blurs together into a cacophony of product placement, earworm tunes that became maddeningly overplayed (see: “Blurred Lines”), and heavy-handed marketing campaigns that beat you over the head until all you can say is “Wow, Miley Cyrus really is edgy and different!”
The inescapable onslaught of such heavily-funded campaigns constantly reminded us that “Mirrors” was the only song in existence for a few summer months, Lady Gaga was “applauding” the release of Artpop before it even came out, Justin Timberlake thinks Target has affordable prices and a great line of products to boot, and of course, Arcade Fire did, in fact, release an album this year, despite no one doubting that ever.
“OK, I get it. You’ve got an album out, you’ve played every TV show in the world.” – Trent Reznor on Arcade Fire
But then, in a sudden twist, Beyonce released her new self-titled album unannounced last week. There was no major label marketing campaign; there were no commercials guised as music videos, or news stories announcing her album art, track listing, single, single’s music video, appearance on Ellen, world tour, and Twitter beef with a Kardashian. None of it. There was only music.
As record executives pulled out their hair and publicists twiddled their thumbs, fans experienced Beyonce’s new record all at the same time in a wonderful throwback to the way things once were, when fans went to record stores on a release day. The sudden demand was so high, that her album even briefly crashed the iTunes server, and broke the record for “fastest selling record.” It really makes you question whether all the PR hoopla is even worth it, doesn’t it? People still bought the album in droves despite the lack of fanfare; in fact, it probably benefited from the added buzz.
“There’s so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans,” Beyonce stated on the matter. Needless to say, it’s refreshing to see such a well-known act take this stance, especially considering she isn’t the first. Earlier this year, My Bloody Valentine released their first album in 20 years independently through their website. Their cult following had been anticipating the record since the legendary Loveless all those years ago, and the experience of hearing it so suddenly was one of the truly special music moments of 2013.
Regrettably, the type of release that Beyonce adopted really isn’t possible for smaller artists, as they don’t have the dedicated fanbase necessary to do so. Thus, we haven’t seen the end of the no-holds-barred marketing campaigns, but for larger artists like Timberlake, Gaga, and Arcade Fire, they really aren’t necessary in order to have a successful release. Beyonce made that abundantly clear.
Article by Nicolas White