With technology at their fingertips and the competitive nature to be more original with their music, artists have been becoming more creative not only in their music and performances but in their album releases as well. We took a look at some of the most unique releases in modern music history; here are the Top 10.
When Maroon 5 released their album titled V in 2014, they took a quick jump the internet to create a scavenger hunt for fans to be able to discover the album title and cover. To compliment their previously released single on the item, “Maps,” they left pieces and part of their album cover across the web. They finally debuted the entire cover on Facebook for their album release.
With the upcoming album release of Talk That Talk, Rihanna was clever using the internet in order to build more anticipation for it’s debut. Using Facebook, Rihanna created an app titled “Rihanna: UNLOCKED” where fans could play games to unlock information about the upcoming album. It included secrets such as lyrics, the album name, and her hit song “We Found Love.” The app required a certain amount of participants and once hit capacity, the album was released.
In 2007, no longer being under the contract of a record label, Radiohead released their seventh album In Rainbows. But this time, Radiohead released a digital copy on their website where fans could pay what they wanted for the album and it would go into a “tip jar.” That’s right– you could even download it for free. Physical copies were later released in January and despite all the freely obtainable downloads, Radiohead still received over $2 million in sales by the end of the week. Despite overwhelming bashing from business critics, In Rainbow’s sales spoke for themselves that great music will always be great music and to some priceless.
Wu Tang Clan
Wu Tang Clan collaborated over six years to make their latest album, Once Upon A Time in Shaolin. When the album was finally released, Wu Tang Clan decided their would be no tour, no commercial sales, but instead, the limited edition, two disc album would be treated as a piece of art and auctioned off to the highest bidder on its journey through difference art galleries and museums.
ZhuWhen Zhu hit the scene in 2014, he was still determined on remaining as an anonymous artist and wanted his fans focused on the music versus who was creating it. Being faithful to his love for fashion, art and music, Zhu released his very first album solely to a clothing store called Opening Ceremony in New York, where a limited edition vinyl could be purchased along with tickets to his very first show of the NIGHTDAY EXPERIENCE album tour. Only two tickets could be purchased per customer, as this release was kept on the down-low to honor Zhu’s underground followers and to create an intimate experience. This show would become Zhu’s very first public appearance as a performer and as we know, the rest is history.
In 2014, before releasing his album on the ground, Beck made his album Morning Phrase free to stream in the air for Gogo Flight Internet users. No way better to fly than enjoying unreleased music? We assume so. Being no stranger to creative album releases, Beck also released an album in the form of sheet music, where purchasers would have to construct the music in order to actually hear how it sounds. Two very unconventional ways to release albums and we expect nothing less from Beck.
In 2004, before iPod’s and iTunes were at their prime, U2 teamed up with Apple for the release of their album How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. With the album release, Apple featured U2’s song Vertigo on their commercials for their newly released Apple products and featured a limited edition iPod with U2’s album and autographs already preloaded. Apple and U2 paired back up 10 years later for the release Songs of Innocence which automatically appeared on the Apple products and iTunes accounts of people overnight.
With this release, Jay-Z sealed a $20 million deal between his own record label and Samsung allowing Samsung to give away 1 million free copies of Magna Carta Holy Grail 72 hours before the actual release of the album. The copies were distributed to the first 1 million owners of three different Samsung products. Jay-Z gained a $15 million profit on these “free” copies. Jay-Z is one of many artist finding the balance between fighting technology and free downloads versus using it to your advantage.
In anticipation for his album release of My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy, Kanye West created a series of releases starting months before titled “GOOD Friday.” Running for four months, Kanye West would release a song each Friday, either featuring his own music or the music of rappers which he did collaborations with on his album. Four of these appeared on the album and Kayne continued with his GOOD Friday tradition with his latest album The Life of Pablo.
When Queen B released her self-titled album Beyonce at the end up 2013, she gave no warning to a date. Instead, one day out of the blue appeared an entire album. The album broke records, becoming the fastest selling album on iTunes and just three days. We could tell by the album title, that Beyonce was letting her name speak for itself and she did not disappoint. But Beyonce didn’t stop there. Earlier this year she released Lemonade with strict streaming rights to Tidal, a streaming company in which she co-owns alongside her husband, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj and more. Lemonade was accompanied by intense visuals that told a controversial story first before becoming available for purchase on iTunes later. To tease the release, Beyonce previewed clips of the music video that could become an hour long special debuting on HBO. Needless to say, the album and music video were a hit.