Jay-Z – one of the most established artists in the music industry today – has had 12 albums go to No. 1 on the charts. Kanye West – the man responsible for creating some of the most popular beats in music – has had five albums debut at No. 1. Alone, these men have revolutionized the music industry and set the bar unimaginably high for up-and-coming artists. So when I heard they were doing a collaboration album I knew it would be a true masterpiece.
From minute one the album is engaging and catchy. The way the music industry is pumping out music, it is pretty difficult to find an album that can be listened to all the way through without skipping around to different tracks. It is even more difficult to find an album that managed to make it to the release date without being leaked. In the case of “Watch the Throne,” the album wasn’t leaked to the public at all prior to the release date (aside from the exclusive listening party put on by the artists). This gave the fans the opportunity to experience the music all at the same time like we used to before illegal downloading took hold of the music industry.
After recording the most influential rap album in recent history, the duo handed it over to the PR department. Luckily for the legendary pair, the PR practitioners did a fantastic job of putting out news releases and crafting a plan that would make sure the public was ready for the album to drop.
In terms of PR, Aug. 8 was a huge day. This day marked the beginning of a launch campaign that would push the album to record-breaking levels. This campaign began with a four-day exclusive stint on iTunes that featured both versions of the album. For a fan, this meant that if you wanted to get the music from this epic pairing, you had go to iTunes because no other retailer had the goods. As if the 16 mind-blowing songs released that day weren’t enough, tickets also went on sale for the North American tour. These two events, paired with the premiere of the “Otis” music video, proved to be perfectly strategic moves by the PR team.
The album recorded the second-highest opening week sales so far this year with 436,078 units sold. Additionally, Jay-Z and Kanye had to add three more stops to their tour due to the amount of fans dying to see the music performed live. The pair proved yet again that they are the best in the industry and can put out an album that floors audiences worldwide.
The PR team succeeded in presenting the launch of “Watch the Throne” as an unveiling of a work of art. The suspense was broken with a surge of activity surrounding the album, which made it possible for the album to receive the recognition it deserved. Fans had long awaited an album of this magnitude, so when it finally debuted and was featured on multiple media outlets, the public’s curiosity pushed the album to the top of the charts. The PR team’s approach to the campaign was representative of how much weight these particular artists hold in the industry and that is why this campaign was so effective.
Here are my top three tips for a successful launch:
- Do not leak content prior to the release date. By keeping the music under wraps until its launch date, the fans will have a stronger reaction to the album.
- Start the launch campaign with a surge of material. If the fans are anticipating a big release, give it to them. Release a lot of content in a short amount of time to place a spotlight on the music.
- Follow up the release with a tour. Concerts are the best way to reach out to the largest number of fans. So get out there! Take the music on the road and give the fans another date to get excited for.
Jay-Z and Kanye West, hats off to you. The album is incredible, and your PR team put together a launch campaign that could help a Kidz Bop album move up the charts.
“This is one of those rare occasions where the amazing music on this album actually matches the event status of the pairing of these two iconic, generational artists. The proof is in the pudding with the sensational sales this week. Needless to say we are thrilled to be involved with this huge worldwide cultural event.”
– Barry Weiss, Chairman & CEO of Universal Republic and Island Def Jam Motown