This year has been relatively quiet for the music industry. But with Kanye and Drake both releasing projects in the past few weeks, this all has changed. These are two of the biggest artists in the world, and it’s not a coincidence that their drops are a week apart. This battle of the album rollout is just the latest saga in their feud.
Whilst debates about the music rage on, what intrigued us is how the albums were rolled out. We’re going to investigate the techniques they used through the scope of our mantra of generating hype, demand and legacy.
The Donda Rollercoaster: An Album Rollout, But Make It Lucrative
The cycle up to the August 29th release date of Donda is one of the most hype-generating and lucrative campaigns in history. The listening parties saw thousands of people race to stadiums, and according to Billboard, Ye has made $12.75 million from his two Donda parties in Atlanta.
When we did finally get the album, the numbers seemed to back up the hype. Donda obliterated first-day streaming records and was the biggest release of 2021 until Drake’s Certified Lover Boy dropped. The album’s release was shrouded in mystique and controversy, whilst the live streams offered a glimpse of the musician’s creative process. Further controversy was added when Ye invited DaBaby and Marilyn Manson to the shows and reportedly wanted Donald Trump to attend. There was also the bizarre on-stage wedding with Kim.
The past month proved Kanye West is still a major figure, and no matter what he does, people still pay attention, especially when it comes to his music. Donda’s long, wild road to release further proved this.
Whilst Donda’s rollout can be described as nothing other than a spectacle, Drake’s Certified Lover Boy was more modest in comparison.
In October 2020, Drake announced that CLB would be released in January 2021. But this was delayed due to him suffering an injury. But as Kanye was holding his third listening party in Chicago and Donda was being rumoured for a September 3rd release, Drake made his move with an announcement on ESPN’s SportsCenter stating that CLB would also drop on September 3rd.
This announcement seemed to set up a clash of the titans that fans had been speculating about, and apparently, Kanye had wanted all along. But the head-to-head did not materialise as Donda was released on the 29th.
As CLB’s release date came closer, Drake’s rollout started going into full effect as members of the OVO team started handing out merch to fans in Toronto. CLB billboards then started popping up worldwide, letting certain artist’s hometowns know that they’ll be hearing from them on Drake’s sixth studio album. Kanye also got in on the act as Donda billboards also popped up in Toronto around the same time. Drake then posted the album cover online, which stirred up controversy and had fans wondering if it really was the official cover.
Two Methods Similar Results
Kanye: Kanye West has had the scene on standby these past few months whilst not speaking a word publicly. Instead, he’s let the music, his hype and others speak for him. To experience Donda, you had to submit yourself to Kanye’s master plan. From the initial secret listening party, Kanye has been the ultimate puppet master. Toying with our expectations and emotions, choosing what we see and hear and what we expect from an album. This build-up lasted until the early hours of Sunday, when the album was released to everyone’s surprise, including Kanye himself.
Drake: Drizzy took a quieter route with just the official announcement on ESPN and then handing out merch and putting up billboards. If Drake had gone the listening party route, it probably would have been less chaotic, a lot more organised and probably better produced. But these elements are what made the Donda campaign so enthralling.
Kanye: Social proof and scarcity are two factors in creating demand. Kanye has proved to be the master of this. From the day we got the news that he held a private listening party, the world was on tenterhooks for news about Donda. Scarcity was induced by the exclusivity and secrecy of the parties, with influencers like Justin Laboy hyping the album.
Drake: CLB had been rumoured for over a year, and after numerous pushbacks, Drake kept our attention by releasing well-received projects that served as teasers for the album. His use of billboards is also interesting, as they are seen as a dying method of advertising. But Drake used them to drive demand and as a unique way to reveal the album’s features rather than going the conventional way of just posting a tracklist.
Drake: Drake album release dates feel like global holidays, with people dubbing them as “Drake Day”. The only other event we can remember people taking to social media as a collective like this is the day after a Game of Thrones episode. Drake is a master of creating moments, whether it’s an album cover that is meme fodder, giving us countless captions for our Instagram or just making his albums feel like special moments in our lives.
Kanye: Kanye’s rollout of Donda has been the most creative, emotional, epic, confusing and head-scratching we’ve ever seen. Sure, the listening parties were over dramatized, and the album delays were frustrating. But in the end, we can’t deny that the whole spectacle offered an unforgettable and emotional experience. Having a front-row seat of a billionaire spending and generating large sums of money by building absurd moments to add to a historical musical legacy will always have our attention.