Year in Review: Music Marketing Strategies – A Case for Yeezus

2013 has been a stand out year regarding big star marketing strategies for new albums.

The music industry is in strife and artists are struggling to find new ways to sell records and make money.

We had Miley doing that thing with her ass and tongue, Arcade Fire tip toed on the lines of graffiti, Daft Punk used new streaming services to combat leaks and of course Beyonce just hit us with a bomb.

Two marketing strategies that had stark differences however,  Kanye and Jay Z are known for their various marketing ploys but this year, they’re strategies were polar opposites.

Yeezus vs. Magna Carter Holy Grail


In May this year, Kanye sent the order down to one of his interns who had to delete every single one of his tweets. He then posted the two words “June 18.”

There was a clear unorthodox and deliberate lack of promotion behind Yeezus, so much so that you couldn’t even pre-order the record. I Tunes mistakenly put it up for pre-sale and it was immediately taken down.

Unlike most commercial artist releases, it didn’t have an official single and West only made one TV appearance – a performance on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”. In comparison to Jay z, Kanye made no promises to the consumers regarding technology, other than good music.

Much of the hype for the new album was generated by edgy, underground tactics. On May 24, thousands of onlookers in 66 different cities around the world watched as West’s face was projected onto large buildings. These artists have the power to think globally straight away. These projections debuted West’s new song, “New Slaves.”

Compared to Jay Z’s 500,00 in its first week, Yeezus sold 327,000 copies in its first week of release.

Due to this untraditional marketing, it may be argued that the album found difficulty in sustaining its momentum, it had the 4th highest first week drop in history.

During his Governor’s Ball performance, where he performed tracks of Yeezus for the first time Kanye ranted – “Honestly at this point, I couldn’t give a fuck about selling a million records.”

Meanwhile in the same week, Jay-Z simply sold one million copies of Magna Carta Holy Grail to Samsung.

For Kanye, there was no elaborate NBA finals advert, just a two worded tweet. There was almost an exclusivity around Yeezus that was lacking on Magna Carter Holy grail. On Yeezus, the product took centre stage.

If a competitive advantage must ‘enhance strengths and minimize weaknesses,’ then Kanye’s weakness is his ego. Through minimal marketing effort, he tamed his ego and managed to convey his strength in his music and make arguably the best album of 2013.

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