The End of New Music Promotion?

Shortly after midnight on Thursday, December 12th, Beyoncé dropped her fifth album, “Beyoncé,” completely unannounced. On iTunes, 14 songs and 17 videos suddenly appeared with no prior promotion. Earlier that same week, when asked about what’s to come in 2014, the Chairman of Columbia Records, Rob Stringer said, “Obviously, at some point, Beyoncé will put a record out.” Little did anyone know that “at some point” meant later that week.
As of Wednesday, December 18th, “Beyoncé” has reached #1 on the Billboard Charts, set a new iTunes record and sold 828,773 copies worldwide. In a press release published after the album went on sale, Beyoncé said, “I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it. I’m bored with that.”
Six months ago on Friday, June 14th,“Yeezus,” Kanye West’s sixth solo album leaked to the public without any singles being released prior. This is highly unusual for a rap artist in today’s day and age. Most rap artists, such as Drake, 2 Chainz and even Jay Z, always release radio singles before releasing the album. In regards to releasing a single, Kanye said, “We ain’t got no single to radio. We ain’t got no big NBA campaign or nothing like that….When I listen to the radio, that ain’t where I want to be no more.” Now, Kanye’s album “Yeezus” is still being discussed, as well making its rounds on many of the “Best Albums of 2013” lists.
With world-renowned musicians such as Beyoncé and Kanye releasing their albums with little promotion or no singles, this begins to beg the question: Once one attains a certain level of celebrity, is marketing and promotion no longer needed? Typically, recording artists carefully craft promotion plans that begin advertising the release of a new album months in advance. These plans are meant to hone in on the image that the artist is looking to promote with their new album, release singles, give interviews and even perform parts of the album.
Many artists would be unable to get their new music off the ground without the help of marketing and public relations and it seems that only the elite few are able to successfully release their music without doing this. As this trend seems to be continuing, it’s up to public relations professionals to keep an eye on this, especially as some of us may be working for celebrities one day.
What do you think about Beyoncé dropping her new album unannounced – is this an effective approach that could be applied to other celebrities, or does it only work for artists such as herself and Kanye?
This guest blog post was written by PRowl Staff Member Rachel Draghi

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