Four Tet has had quite the illustrious career. He’s released six albums of his own, four collaborations with Steve Reid (under his birth name of Kieran Hebden), three collaborations with Burial (one included Radiohead’s Thom Yorke), four EPs, five mix CDs, 18 singles, over 50 remixes from artists ranging from Aphex Twin, Bloc Party, Hot Chip, Bonobo, Radiohead and more. Along the way he has become known as one of the most innovative and forward thinking electronic artists. He released his seventh album Beautiful Rewind (pictured above) this week with almost no fanfare. Near the end of July, Four Tet said that Beautiful Rewind would come out “soon.” On September 30th it was announced that Beautiful Rewind would come out the very next day.
Let’s flash back to earlier this year. Daft Punk and Boards of Canada both announced new albums, the first for both groups in eight years. Both groups launched extensive if not completely different media campaigns. Daft Punk had giant billboards and posters featuring their signature helmets as well as a 15 second teaser during SNL, a trailer at Coachella (video is above), and an album premiere in a town of 2,000 in Australia. Boards of Canada took a much more mysterious route, releasing a single record on Record Store Day with a snippet of music and mysterious numbers (video of which is below). More mysterious numbers appeared on BBC Radio 1, NPR, Adult Swim, and more. A link found in the source code of a banner on the Boards of Canada Youtube led to a website where the numbers were the mysterious numbers were used as a password that let you access a video and pre-order link to the album.
So which method of hype is better? Do you go for the prolonged marketing campaign or quietly drop an album with almost no press? If you prolong a release it’s going to build up hype for an album with tons of people talking about it. The expectations then becomes that album must be phenomenal and one of the best of the year. Anything short of amazing is simply a dud in the eyes of the listeners. Having no press at all does quite the opposite. It sets absolutely no expectations which can make a listener inflate the actual quality of the album. Having no press as well doesn’t guarantee huge success either unless you have a huge fan base.
What do you think? Are either strategies good for releasing an album? How would you release your album?