The art of the album rollout
How do you garner attention from a hyperactive, ADHD society? In terms of effectiveness, it's one of the toughest questions for people in the industry to answer definitively. We chew up, digest, and discard new music at such a rapid pace that we don't even get to fully enjoy projects that were months, if not years in the making. For that reason, record execs, management teams and solo promoters have to be creative with how they roll out an artist's music.
Many albums, some careers, have fallen by the wayside due to poor marketing. Maybe the material was weak, but at the same time a whole bunch of weak shit gets several thousand spins upon release. The latter HAS to be a byproduct of effective promotion (or payola, but that's a whole other discussion).
Maybe the label is to blame for not putting enough stock into the artist. But at the same time, it's not the 90s, B. With social media, you should be able to promote yourself without being completely reliant on a major label. So what can you do? The bottom line is: you gotta be creative and you gotta be persistent.
Let's take a look at a few ways artists have recently announced projects that we'll see in 2018.
The most straightforward method of letting the world know that you have new music on the way. A standard proclamation of "I'm about to drop a project," coupled with the lead single or a snippet of it, usually kicks off the process. It's typical for most artists to announce their projects 1-2 months in advance, but some like to leave it ambiguous. No definitive release could mean they're waiting for samples to clear, the project is nowhere close to being done, or they wanna blindside their fans.
Artists like to slowly build on that anticipation in the following weeks. Drop some visuals to lead single, unveil the cover art, tracklist and features, things like that. Then artists will go through a car wash of radio and print interviews. Major labels will give top financial marketing priority to the music acts they believe are most profitable. That means excessive billboards, advertisements, placement on late-night talk shows. People that reside on the Billboard Top 40 benefit most from this.
Breaking free from the formulaic chains of the music industry is a beautiful thing. More and more artists, especially independents and up-and-comers, are innovating the way we look at promotion. Instead of the archaic schedule of announcement > lead single > interview > release date, a simple heads up is starting to become the norm. This, of course, works best for artists that have a strong core or large following. If you're a SoundCloud rapper with 100 followers, regularly getting 25 plays a song, don't do this (if a tree falls in the forest...).
An ambiguous release date can open up the door to a lot of creative options. For example: random clips of studio sessions have frequently popped up all over social media during the past five years. Clips don't have to mention a release date; they let the eager public know that something - a snippet, a whole track, a whole project - is on the way or is being worked on.
Unexpected drops like Lemonade, What A Time To Be Alive, and Without Warning made a major impact because of the shock value. This can only be accomplished by the hottest artists during the social media age. It'll be interesting to see how these creatives and their management/promotional teams will utilize social media in 2018 and beyond.
By far THE corniest and THE goofiest way to attract attention to yourself is the confrontational route. Legitimate beefs, specifically in hip-hop, occurred all the time in the 90s and 00s. But since the start of this current decade, it seems like certain artists will say a flippant statement towards one of their peers, just for the sake of attention.
The rationale behind the diss could be that a particular artist or group feels like they aren't getting enough shine or the artist(s) they diss is getting too much shine. I'm not saying people shouldn't voice their opinions and displeasures; call a spade a spade. But if you say "my new album/cookbook/TV Show/whateverthefuck drops in a month!", you can miss me with the bullshit. We all see through this facade.
Dissing someone else as a means to regain relevance or to get on the map shouldn't be the way to go. It's a gimmicky trend that most can recognize from a mile away, especially from repeat offenders. When timed well, it can draw a great deal of attention towards your platform. If it backfires, good luck trying to make your way back into a tight-knit music industry. Even if it is successful, one's public perception could forever be that hatin' ass fool outside the club. Truly is a lose-lose situation.