Death To The Single: The New Type Of Music Promotion…Or Lack Thereof

Mahogany Bullock
Writer. NYC. ECU Grad.

Once upon a time, artists thrust their undying effort into the rollout of their projects. There were lengthy meetings that lasted deep into the night that led to months of preparatory promotion. Press tours weren’t optional and interviews weren’t left for particular mediums. A surprise release was unheard of and videos were a necessity.

I say all this to emphasize there has been a clear shift in the way music is presented today.

With the emergence of free music streaming, we couldn’t expect artists to remain true to hosting TRL alongside the legendary Carson Daly. The industry required a change, and TRL’s 2008 finale was only the beginning.

Since then, social media has steadily begun to take the place of the dreaded press tour. Rather than waking up at 4 a.m. for a stint on Good Morning America and staying up for a late night talk show with a cheesy comedian, artists now have the capability to tweet an incredibly vague, likely grammatically incorrect, sentence and cause a massive stir within their fanbase. Honestly, why didn’t we think of this sooner?

Following Beyonce’s semi-iconic late-night release of her self-titled album, artists were forced to approach their promotion techniques with a much more unique point of view. Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t have as much clout as Bey, so a random release of a visual album won’t always prove successful and can often go unnoticed. It’s because of this fateful reality that artists like J. Cole took to the literal streets with his album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive.

His unprecedented moves were one of kind, as he opened his childhood home to fans for a private listening party. He went to Twitter requesting his fans send their current location so he could drop off signed copies of his album, personally meeting several individuals. His outpouring of relatable friendliness garnered attention and gained a following.

Now, two years later, Cole quietly told fans the date of his album release less than two weeks prior, causing the necessary buzz. The following day, an exclusive documentary appeared on Tidal, giving fans a behind-the-scenes look at what was to come. Without much word from him or his team, J. Cole managed to create a nationwide conversation surrounding the release of his latest project.

The presence of Instagram and Twitter have shaped the way artists maneuver through Hollywood. Rather than the simple text message, it’s somehow become the norm to communicate via Instagram caption, but I digress. Artists have begun to rely on varied combinations of starpower, social media, and shock to gain buzz preceding their projects. I can only hope this doesn’t put their actual talent in the backseat while internet-earned famed proudly rides shotgun.

As artists look for the most creative ways to promote their music, it’s undeniably a battle between the most originative marketing teams. Whether they start a rap war with Nicki Minaj’s beaux, or get caught in an accidental nip slip, we can expect mass amount gasp worthy headlines followed by album-inspired Instagram posts.

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