Like most people in the music world we’ve been following Radiohead’s release of their latest album ‘The King of Limbs ‘with interest. Stage One in the album launch was the release of a digital download in mid February with pre-sales of a music and merchandise ‘Newspaper Album’ package. Stage Two played out today (29th of March for the USA and Canada) with the release of the CD and vinyl version of TKOL into record stores across the world. Displaying typical marketing nous the band have accompanied the release with the free distribution of a twelve-page ‘newspaper’ called The Universal Sigh’ which contains short stories, artwork and poetry from band members and other Radiohead collaborators. The paper is being distributed entirely for free by “dedicated teams of newspaper delivery people” at carefully selected record stores across the globe.
It’s another excellent example of the band using their creativity and passion for communicating directly with their fanbase to promote their music. In short, it’s great marketing and here’s why:
1. It maximises physical album sales
Enticing fans into record stores with a free and unique piece of merchandise like ‘The Universal Sigh’ is a brilliant way to maximise physical sales. It’s an added incentive for people who don’t already own the album to purchase it in-store, while those fans who already have the digital download (whether paid-for or illegally downloaded) are being up-sold into CD or vinyl.
2. It ties into social media
The accompanying website is a fantastic example of social media integration. Official photos are taken when fans receive their copy of ‘The Universal Sigh’ and are immediately uploaded to the website. Another section of the site displays a photo feed from the ‘The Universal Sigh’ group on Flickr where fans can upload self-taken photos featuring them reading the ‘newspaper’ in unusual locations. And they cannily encourage all tweets to display the #theuniversalsigh hashtag. With so many excited fans out there sharing and tweeting the message who needs to buy advertising?
3. It Extends the Purchase Life-Cycle of the Album
The release of ‘The King Of Limbs’ has been a well-planned affair. By breaking up the release into three distinct stages (digital, physical, ‘Newspaper Album’) and supporting them with unusual and creative events like ‘The Universal Sigh’ they are keeping the band and the album top of mid over a three month period, thereby increasing the likelihood it will continue to sell past the traditional one-month peak for new album sales. This is no mean feat as any music PR person can tell you. Stage Three in the record release will be the first shipment of the ‘Newspaper Album’ packages in early May 2011. We’re looking forward to seeing what tricks Radiohead might pull out of the bag to promote this.