Kanye West’s album rollouts have indirectly changed the landscape of the music industry, cutting out the middleman on more ways than you think.
Traditionally, there’s been two main leaker profiles; the guy who works at Best Buy, Target, or the CD plant who takes a copy of a soon to be released album, and rips it to his computer to publish online. Contrarily, there’s the hacker, more than likely a person with a computer science background.
When the smoke clears, you have West. Throughout the years, West has had his songs, and body parts leaked onto the world wide web, now known as the internet. However, instead of showing vulnerability, West has implemented the leakers blueprint, and has adapted it to his music marketing.
While college kids, businesses, and industries try to create campaigns to launch their brands it appears West knows something everyone else doesn’t.
Dating back to 2007, West was set to release his highly anticipated third album Graduation. As the due date approached, it was discovered that fellow rapper 50 Cent, real name Curtis Jackson, was set to release his highly anticipated album, Curtis, on the same day as well.
Approximately two weeks before the release date of both albums, September 11th, they were leaked. But, in a situation where most artists’ would panic, West strategically turned this situation into a marketing opportunity, gloating about how much better his album was compared to Jackson’s.
All in all, the gloating worked in West’s favor as his album debuted atop the Billboard 200, selling just over 957,000 copies in its first week, before streams were a thing.
Jackson wasn’t close in first week copies sold, but did see his album, Curtis, debut at no. 2 on the Billboard 200, selling approximately $691,000.
To drive home West’s marketing genius, West followed up his win against Jackson with the release of 808’s & Heartbreak. Released in 2008, for promotion of 808’s & Heartbreak, West self-leaked unmastered songs, remixes, and throwaway tracks directly onto his blog. The album went on to debut atop the Billboard 200, selling just over 450,000 copies.
Two years later in 2010 right before the internet wave, West paved the way for many internet artists’ today with his strategic rollout. In anticipation of his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, West invented “G.O.O.D Fridays” where he would release at least one new song every Friday. By doing that, West was able to gauge consumer reaction before the album was released, leaving poorly received tracks by the waste side.
Internet artists’ today have taken this strategic model, and implemented for themselves, most notably Skizzy Mars.
Say what you want about West, but he very well may be the godfather of the internet artist today.