Since when has music promotion gotten so weird? Don't get me wrong: I’m all for a good marketing scheme, but what’s been happening in the past few weeks has just been odd. Currently, the norm is fake album countdown websites and ransom notes, or sometimes there’s no promotion at all if the artist is big enough (looking at you Beyoncé and Kanye).
Has the regular album promotion cycle ended? Are the days of hearing about a record months before it comes out long gone? Will I miss the months-long hype-building for an upcoming release? The answers are yes, maybe, and yes, which I will show you through a survey of recent album announcements.
Taylor Swift announced that her newest album, Reputation, will drop November 10, and that she will be releasing the first single on Thursday night. But I’m sure you already knew that, because of all the commotion on Taylor’s socials this past week. The announcement came via a weirdly popular new promotion method: a social media blackout. Following bands like Radiohead and the 1975, Taylor deleted all of her Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook posts over the weekend.
This week the accounts lit back up with… snake videos.
Swift managed to choose one of the more horrible animals she's been compared to (see the “Bad Blood” Katy Perry vs. Taylor feud, or the time Kim Kardashian exposed Taylor as a snake on Snapchat story). Also, why does the video have such bad animation?
To continue building the hype, today she released the cover art for Reputation, which is a bunch of headlines in the classic New York Times font that literally just say "Taylor Swift" over and over and over. The image itself is just so weird, but I also can’t stop looking at it.
Last week, Brand New did some odd marketing for their very long-awaited fifth album as well. The band released pre-orders for what could potentially be their last album ever, and within a matter of days, a select few fans received the album in the mail. Obviously, the lucky ones immediately began leak it online, just to have the band surprise-drop the full LP, titled Science Fiction, by the weekend.
My favorite form of bizarre advertising has to come from Björk, who promoted her upcoming album the way I imagine a second-grader would.
Yes, that’s a handwritten, nearly illegible note that gives almost no details about the record except that it exists. This is how albums are announced now. But she's Björk, so she's forgiven.