Sippin’ Lemonade: The Art of the Surprise Album

By: Cree Armstead & Darriell Butler

Bey did it back in 2014 with her self-titled album, again in 2016 with the Beyhive Bible, Lemonade, and once more this month as one half of the real royal couple, The Carters. The appeal of the surprise album drop has been proven again and again with the successes of Queen Bey, Drake, and others who have utilized the tool. Ready to serve up the element of surprise? Here are 3 things to remember before dropping your gem:

1. Create a Loyal Following: If you’re brand new to the music game, an unannounced album won’t do you any favors. You need to amass popularity and visibility until you become fairly recognizable to the public. Establish yourself as a familiar face to your target audience and you'll begin to build a solid base of supporters. No, you don’t necessarily have to possess your own personal Beyhive or wave of rabid Swifties, but you should have a solid following- loyal listeners who are invested in your music and consistently support your work. These are the people that will devour and help disperse a surprise album. Dedicated fans provide more free advertising than any other venue by flooding streaming platforms while collectors will purchase hard copies within hours of its release. By gifting your fanbase with a surprise album, you can be sure they will keep your name trending.

2. Strategize: A well-crafted surprise is a shock to everyone but the shocker. When it comes to dropping a successful unannounced album, strategy is key. For example, the Carters were well into their “On The Run II” tour when they released Everything is Love with no warning. They took advantage of the fact that they were already trending as a power couple and chose the optimal time to release their first joint effort, cementing themselves as a unified front in both marriage and music. The surprise release coupled with the tour bought them another few weeks in the headlines and left us all shook. How do you replicate these results at your level? Choose a date when your followers are most likely to engage with you, such as a show date or your birthday. If they are flocking to your page to send you well-wishes, you can “gift” them new music and it will be impossible to miss.

3. Interact with the People: One way to ensure the success of an album (surprise or not) is to engage with your fanbase. Take a couple minutes and respond to the first few comments on your latest post. Hitting “like” takes a millisecond and pays off in spades. Set up a time during or immediately after your next show that's dedicated to interacting with fans. Take pictures, shake hands, say thank you. You don't need to do this at every show, just enough to remind folks you care. Followers who feel heard and appreciated will be the first to peep your album and subsequently share it. Share the love, and they'll reciprocate it a hundredfold.

Ready to put these tips to work and drop the surprise album your fans deserve? Book your session at The Sound Machine ATL today!

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