What do Death Grips & Beyoncé have in common?
The week starts on Monday, movies come out on Fridays, and in America, albums are released on Tuesdays.
In the U.K. and in France, albums are released on Mondays; in Germany fans can get an artists latest work after they pick up their paychecks on Friday.
The history behind the release date of music is close to non-existent, but as far as most people can remember it has just always been done this way — but if there is one sentiment that has been reiterated more times than any other saying over the past 10 years, it is that the Internet is changing the way the music industry works.
Traditional means of marketing album releases have given way to two schools of thought: a maximalist approach that plays by the rules and a minimalist approach that throws the rulebook out the window.
For an example of a maximalist approach to an album release look no further than the campaign that Arcade Fire ran to increase anticipation for their latest release, Reflektor. The graffiti-driven, social-media-fueled guerilla attack was more than enough for the album to debut (on a Tuesday) at No. 1 on the billboard charts.
To be honest, though, the maximalist route that Arcade Fire took to marketing is as boring as the group’s latest album. A big campaign can be bought, and even though Arcade Fire tries oh-so-hard to convey a message of social justice, its antics speak louder than its lyrics, painfully reminding us that it is the biggest band in the world.
The minimalist album rollout is more exciting and is better for both fans and artists. The Internet provides people with a sense of connectivity, and the approach that both Beyoncé and Death Grips took capitalizes on that connection.
Instead of spamming the Internet with teasers, promos and clues, Beyoncé and Death Grips cut out the middle man and released their work straight to the public. In Beyoncé’s case, the record label had some insight, but in the case of, Death Grips, their past three releases all have come out of left field, striking the Twittersphere at random times.
Death Grips have been at this game for a few years now. The genre-bending hardcore punk/rap group have been violating the rules of the music industry since it illegally released its own album, "No Love Deep Web," early, much to the dismay of their then-label, Epic. After being dropped by Epic, Death Grips followed up "No Love Deep Web" with the release of "Government Plates" in the same random manner in the fall of 2013. The release of “N***** on the Moon” last Monday morning (or Sunday night) at midnight was yet another blow against the traditional music industry. Within minutes, Death Grips were already a national trend on Twitter and news had spread.
Death Grips have figured out how to make music a communal commodity once again.
Gone are the days of LP sharing and waiting in line to purchase a record at the store, but music is still something that is meant to be shared. By releasing their albums in the manner that they have, Death Grips managed to unite the population of music lovers.
When “N***** on the Moon” dropped, I received a handful of texts from my friends sharing their opinions, and my Twitter feed was filled with people sharing the news.
Like Death Grips, Beyoncé released her self-titled album to the public without warning back in December, and I remember how the whole world seemingly stopped what it was doing to praise Queen B. Without a doubt, Beyonce adopted this idea from Death Grips – even though she, and her close friends, will likely never give credit to Death Grips.
Death Grips have pioneered a format for album releases that forces people to stop what they are doing and pay attention.
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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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