Taylor Swift and Beyoncé are some of the most famous musical artists in the world. Whenever one of them has gone rogue with their album release or distribution strategy, it’s obviously become big headlines.
What Beyoncé and Taylor choose to do with their music should have little impact on how reggae and dancehall artists promote and distribute their music.
Why? Well, no two fanbases are alike. Reggae artists don’t have single-album sales figures in the millions, dancehall artists are not selling out world tours and apart from Bob Marley’s children, reggae artists are not winning countless Grammy awards. Beyoncé and Taylor swift have more Grammy and other major music awards between them than they have fingers and toes between them.
In 2013, Beyoncé secretly released her 5th album on iTunes without any prior announcements or promotion. The album had the element of surprise debuted at #1 in the US (Beyoncé’s fifth consecutive #1 album), and was the fastest-selling album ever on iTunes.
Similarly, we heard very little about Protoje’s recent album release before it came out. Of course Protoje wasn’t purposely trying to keep is album a secret but enough time, effort and money was not sent marketing the album as not too many people know that it has been released. So what worked for Beyoncé did not work for Protoje and it will not work for any reggae artist.
As a reggae artist, part of a successful album launch is about marketing and promoting your album long before its release, in order to create anticipation. For most reggae dancehall artists an overnight launch of a secret album would fall flat. So unless you have a really compelling reason to keep things hush-hush, give yourself and your music a long runway.
The release of the secret Beyoncé album worked so well for two reasons: 1) iTunes is a trusted retailer with many millions of customers, and 2) Beyoncé is guaranteed to make the most of the partnership, meaning that iTunes would put all of their promotional muscle behind the album once it was launched.
If a reggae artist decided to launch his/her new record exclusively through iTunes, you’d have the consumer trust-factor on your side, but would you get much extra love from iTunes? It’s certainly possible but there’s no way that he/she would get the Beyoncé treatment.
So the bottom line to reggae artists around the world is, if you plan and release music, you must have a marketing and promotion budget. There is no way around it. You cannot expect to have a successful release without spending on marketing your release. Get your music out to all the reggae and dancehall websites, especially 18karatreggae.com.
Taylor Swift and Beyoncé can drop a surprise album tomorrow and sell a million copies within a week, reggae artists cannot.