File Sharing. Unauthorized audio videos. Outright music pirating. All continue to serve as means by which consumers can secure music content without actually paying for it. One band, however, is showing particular marketing aplomb in getting its brand new album tunes into the hands of its paying fans, including understanding the dynamics of music consumption, artistic subjectivity and word of mouth.
Music artists have always liked to ‘tease’ its upcoming releases. When I was working in radio as a DJ and music director, we would typically start playing a new single weeks before the release date of the full album as the record company sought to “prime the pump” and build up excitement and demand. On the other side of the equation, artists such as Prince and Beyonce have released entire “LPs” online with zero to no notice – with Prince even offering an entire new album download for free in a recent year. Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” allowed fans to pay what they wanted, again, for the entire multi-song offering.
Last year, alternative rockers Red provided its audience with the opportunity to pre-order the album in order to be among the first to have several of its new songs automatically downloaded one at a time to fans’ music libraries every couple of weeks. Breaking Benjamin has taken that methodology one better in 2018, releasing a couple of songs at a time at a faster clip with its just out “Ember.”
It’s brilliant really. ‘Buy our album now and get our songs first.’ Moreover, Benjamin’s songs by songs releases have been timed impeccably. Two songs downloaded at a time ensured listeners enjoyed at least one of the two tunes (art being subjective of course) and allowed fans just enough time for the tunes to be enjoyed and become familiar and ingrained before new songs were introduced; thus also lessening the possibility of any one song burn out.
Moreover, by not overly focusing on one or two ‘hit’ records played on the radio, a band like Breaking Benjamin can cultivate greater interest in virtually all of a new offering’s songs, in turn stimulating word of mouth and moving concert goers to clamor not just for the ‘greatest hits’ and oldies but also for more new product to be performed onstage. Offer it early and bit by bit and fans are demonstrating that they will come – and pay for that right.