Why More Artists Should Release Surprise Albums

Courtesy of blog.turntablelab.com
Courtesy of Young Turks via blog.turntablelab.com

Secretly releasing music without any marketing and promotion has become an effective new marketing tactic. The idea of surprising fans with an unexpected album was initially started by pop goddess, Beyonce. “King Bey” almost shut the Internet down when she unexpectedly released her album, Beyonce, on December 13, 2013. Why is this tactic so effective?

Today’s buying process is extremely fast-paced and most consumers buy spontaneously. Dropping an unexpected album adds shock value, and it catches consumers off-guard. Most fans will rush to buy the album because they don’t want to feel left out. The pandemonium these unexpected releases generate is equivalent to shoppers running around the store on Black Friday. The secret release is also effective because the standard way of promoting an album has become boring. How many times have we heard an artist say, “go and buy my album because it is the best work I’ve done”. Ugh! Boring! Where’s the excitement? Where’s the shock value?

Artists usually are required to promote their album for three to six months (sometimes even longer) before the album is released. Artists ‘hype’ the album up so much before it gets released, and this does more damage than good. Mainly because the album usually falls short of all the ‘hype’. The marketing tactic of unexpectedly releasing albums is genius because there is no ‘hype’ before the album comes out. This allows the music to speak for itself, instead of the artist speaking for the music.

Although unexpected album releases is risky and takes a lot of guts, it is well worth the risk. Beyonce’s self-titled album sold a record 828,773 copies in just three days. Rapper J. Cole also surprised fans with an unexpected release date of his 2014 Forest Hills Drive album. Although J. Cole didn’t drop the album unexpectedly, he still managed to generate a lot of shock value. His label did not release any songs from the album prior to the release date. 2014 Forest Hills Drive sold 375,000 copies in its first week and debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard Charts.

I hope more artists start dropping unexpected albums in 2015. Why not? So far, the marketing tactic is working. Much respect to R&B singer Miguel; he just surprised fans last night by secretly releasing his EP, NWA.HollywoodDreams.Coffee. The revolution has begun.