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Artist mystique and clickbait culture have turned rollouts sour for music fans

Drake’s non-release of “For All the Dogs" prompts questions of music industry failure vs. media sensationalization


Gordon Commons resident Alan Alaaldin's door with a "Song of the Day" whiteboard on Aug. 28, 2023, in Phoenix.

While plenty of artists stay true to release schedules and pre-planned rollouts, fans have been continually disappointed due to some artists building endless hype (to no avail) or allowing rumors to practically guarantee a release date.

Most recently, this conversation was spurred yet again with the non-release of Drake's "For All the Dogs" album on Aug. 25. "I was just being really optimistic, but it still sucked not to see it," Alan Alaaldin said, a freshman studying sports journalism. 

Album rollouts have evolved in recent years. What was once a simple announcement, then a couple of singles leading up to a project's release, has become a muddy, mysterious mess of confusion and clickbait. 

"Because of all the speculation, scrolling through my Twitter and seeing all the people making theories saying 'it's gonna drop tonight,'" Alaaldin said. "I was definitely disappointed."

Some fans haven't even kept up with the rollout. 

"I've just been disappointed so many times by artists that I didn’t make it a big deal," said Maryam Makei, a sophomore studying computer science.

But was it even Drake’s fault? Here’s what he posted on Aug. 21. 

It was just an album cover and a title, but it was enough to invigorate fans. 

Metallic Malik, a local artist, content creator and senior studying interdisciplinary arts and performance, likens the hype to media outlets sensationalizing the facts. 

"Being someone who’s familiar with releases, I know that a lot of the time there will be a lot of rumors that say an artist is going to release, but did they say that themselves? Or is this just another platform trying to get some engagement or some clout from being the first source?" Metallic Malik said.

Social media hip-hop accounts all but confirmed its release on Aug. 25. But it wasn’t just smaller, independent "news" accounts. Even Billboard, in a now-corrected article, said, "The superstar’s new album, For All The Dogs, is set to release tomorrow (Aug. 25)."

Almost every hip-hop social media account spread this around, and it’s clear to see how this set up disappointment. 

"There was never a set date. A lot of outlets are to blame. A lot of them just want clicks and engagement. Especially now on Twitter, they get paid for their engagement, which makes it so much worse," Makei said. 

Accounts didn’t stop after the supposed release day, though. In the constant need for engagement and revenue, the hype still continues to follow this album despite Drake's relative silence while on tour. 

As of Wednesday, the album is confirmed by Drake to be released on Sept. 22.

Fans don't think the fault is wholly on the media, though. Drake is far from the first artist to disappoint their fans, with artist and enigma Playboi Carti being perhaps the most notorious culprit. 

"He just lies, he hates his fans at this point. My best friend is a Playboi Carti diehard, and he's never, ever expected him to drop an album, ever," Alaaldin said. 

Makei said that he's part of the reason this phenomenon is so common. 

"I feel like (Playboi Carti) pushed that culture of 'we're gonna do these horrible rollouts that are so ineffective,' and other artists started following the same path."

Makei believes that artists like Carti inspired other artists to follow in their footsteps, snowballing into a bigger, more systemic problem in the music community. 

"It's constant disappointment, over and over again, with so many artists," Makei said. "I just don’t understand why they think that’s a way to keep their fans involved."

Metallic Malik says that larger artists can get away with breaking their fans' trust, but smaller artists can’t. 

"Smaller artists have to be really mindful about how truthful they are when it comes to their art and their audience. They’re building their brand. They're building their name. You’re standing on those people, so you have to make sure that you’re being honest and being truthful."

“It’s taken so much away from music culture overall," Makei said. "These things used to be exciting, and now it's 'is he just lying to us?'"

Despite it all, Drake will likely remain unscathed from this incident. 

"It's a huge letdown, and yeah, it can create mistrust between fans, but at the end of the day, I don’t think this is really going to have an effect on his career. I think he’ll be perfectly fine," Makei said. 

There isn't a clear way forward to limit these incidents or their effects on their fanbases, but fans have hope that things can change. 

Makei said that artists need to simply appreciate their fans and respect the energy that they put into the art. 

"It's no longer just a fan or an audience, that’s a friend," Metallic Malik said. "And you don't want to lie to your friend."

Edited by Claire van Doren, Jasmine Kabiri and Caera Learmonth

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