Can marketers break the monotony?
When Drake and 21 Savage dropped their highly anticipated collaboration “Her Loss” in November, fans expected elite beats, playful raps and a megawatt duo looking to parlay the success of a No. 1 single into an enjoyable long-form album.
What no one expected was a subliminal diss of stale marketing strategies in the music industry.
Rather than give interviews or a live performance to promote the album, Drake, 21 Savage and their teams concocted a marketing rollout using their own platforms.
Included were spoofs of performances on Saturday Night Live, the YouTube series A Colors Show and NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert, a faux interview with Howard Stern, a mock version of Vogue’s In the Bag series and a fake Vogue magazine cover.
The stunts sent up the usual music marketing playbook, which often relies on the tried-and-true promo strategy of having artists make appearances on various television and online platforms to promote a new project.
— OVO Sound (@OVOSound) November 2, 2022
Though the fake Vogue cover ended up with the magazine’s publisher Condé Nast suing Drake and 21 Savage, the overall viral marketing strategy worked.
Head of R&B and hip-hop streaming at distribution platform Venice Music Jamal Jimoh said the stunt resonated because Drake and 21 Savage were able to make jokes at their own expense in the promos.
“Anything where you’re down to have a little bit of fun, and not take yourself too seriously, for me, always connects,” he said. “It humanizes it, and makes it more approachable and easier for the audience to connect.”
The marketing stunt seemed to work, with the album notching the biggest debut week for a hip-hop/R&B album in 2022. The tracks racked up a total 514 million on-demand official streams, the fourth-largest streaming week for any album in history at the time.
But did the stunt make an impression on music marketers?
Partner and co-founder of marketing firm 740 Project and independent record label Blac Noize, Rahim Wright, thinks so. He said music marketing can often feel like checking off boxes because record labels are trying to make sure artists commit to a certain number of late-night talk shows, online studio performances and interviews. That has created a bland and formulaic approach to artist marketing.