Published Jul 15, 2013With the music landscape more cluttered than ever and file-sharing showing no signs of abating, it's getting increasingly difficult for artists to gain our attention and earn our dollars. This year, a few artists have combatted the trend with masterful pre-release campaigns that earned headlines and garnered impressive sales figures.
Here are our five favourite campaigns from the first half of the year. All of these albums came out within the span of a few months, and we're likely to see more great media blitzes before the year is out.
Top 5 Most Innovative Hype Campaigns of 2013 So Far:
5. Jay-Z - Magna Carta Holy Grail
Rather than build up to the release of Magna Carta Holy Grail with months of promotion, Jay-Z aired an ad during the NBA finals to announce that it would be arriving in under three weeks. Stranger still, Samsung purchased a million copies of the album to give to Galaxy smartphone users four days early. Also instead of sharing teaser tracks, Hova rolled out lyrics ahead of time. However, there were some noticeable glitches along the way.
4. Queens of the Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork
Any album featuring guests like Dave Grohl, Elton John, Trent Reznor, Mark Lanegan, Alex Turner and Jake Shears is bound to earn buzz, but Queens of the Stone Age helped to make ...Like Clockwork one of the landmark rock events of the year with cryptic letters addressed to specific magazines and creepy phone messages sent to fans. Plus, there was a fancy animated film to keep us occupied.
3. Kanye West - Yeezus
Kanye West stoked anticipation for Yeezus with a brilliant anti-hype campaign. He shared almost no information about it, didn't release a proper single and didn't allow pre-orders. He didn't even create a proper album cover, with a plain-looking CD inside of a blank case functioning as the ultra-minimal artwork. Rather than follow industry conventions, he staged weekly screenings involving projections on the sides of buildings. A last-minute bundle of hype came in the form of Kanye's baby daughter with girlfriend Kim Kardashian, born just days before the release.
2. Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
Before announcing Tomorrow's Harvest, Boards of Canada led fans on an easter egg hunt for secret codes concealed within one-of-a-kind 12-inches and hidden online clips. At first it was confusing as hell, but fans fans eventually tracked down all of the codes, which turned out to be the lengthy password that unlocked a promo site. This website then spilled the beans about the new release, and the experiment proved that the Scottish IDM kings have truly devoted followers. Some of those same fans then endured the desert heat for a listening session in California, and Boards of Canada allowed attendees to leak their ultra-rough phone recordings of the first few songs.
1. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
For Daft Punk, it was all about weaving the perfect mystery. The robotic duo drove us crazy by holding so much back, dropping hints and tantalizing tidbits of information while still keeping the details of Random Access Memories close to the robo-chests. This left us scrounging for information about the tracklist, guests and actual music, while watching a string of video interviews featuring high-profile collaborators like Panda Bear, Chilly Gonzales, Giorgio Moroder, Nile Rodgers, Pharrell Williams, Paul Williams, DJ Falcon and Todd Edwards. Of course, it would have all been for naught if "Get Lucky" wasn't the catchiest single in god knows how long, and the song became a viral hit before it was even released in full thanks to some fan-created loops of the chord progression. Oh, and the album itself turned out to be amazing, making the over-the-top guessing game one that was well worth playing.