2013 has been the year of album hype, and the hype is not limited to one genre. Daft Punk, Kanye West and Arcade Fire have all had over-zealous campaigns accompanying their releases this year.
Daft Punk first unleashed the news of its new album publically with a 15 second clip that aired during SNL, which was quickly spread online. At first, people thought the stranger robots were saying “mexican monkey,” but anticipation for the group’s first true album in years caught on quickly. A slightly longer clip was shown at Coachella, and was talked about more than any of the actual festival performances. It was at Coachella that the world heard the first murmurs of “Get Lucky,” which would soon be the song of the summer for teenagers and young adults everywhere. The release of collaborators and production techniques used on the album only enhanced anticipation, leading to the duo’s most successful album ever.
Arcade Fire had a more guerrilla-roots campaign its its rollout, consisting mostly of cryptic symbols marked on streets. The ominous words “Reflektor” originally didn’t hold any relation to Arcade Fire, but the band revealed that it would be the title of its next album through a reply on Twitter. An official Instagram account documented the symbols, which then began featuring the date "9/9/9." On Sept. 9 at 9 p.m., Arcade Fire officially released a video for its single “Reflektor,” and expectations grew. By the time the album was finally released, anticipation was higher than for any album in the band’s history.
Perhaps the most subversive and interesting album rollout of 2013 was Kanye West’s Yeezus. It began with his tweet “JUNE EIGHTEEN,” which led to a map on his website that targeted spots around the world. Fans and bystanders at the locations were then graced with a projection of Kanye’s face rapping “New Slaves” — including one spot on the UT campus. He then put the album art — which is blank — on his website, only adding to the enigma that is Yeezus. Kanye consciously decided not to put a single out for the radio or do any major promotion for the album, instead relying on his individual vision to carry the anticipation for it. More popular and well known than Daft Punk or Arcade Fire, West used his far-reach to make an event and album that will be discussed for many years to come.
This pattern of pre-release hype and elaborate album rollouts could soon become the norm for all artists desiring credible exposure in the future. Moving away from traditional ways of promoting an album … Could this be the beginning of a new era?