If they gave Grammys for salesmanship, Taylor Swift would own the category. The pop star is releasing a new album on November 10, 2018, but the buzz has already began. You don't have to be a fan of Swift's singing to admire her marketing chops. There's a lot she can teach us about product launches.
Every generation has a pop star that masters the media and Swift is one for the ages. The number of views on the album's first single "Look What You Made Me Do" is a staggering 84.4 million and climbing. Think about that as product units and any business owner would be impressed.
So, what makes Taylor so swift?
Tease your customers
Like other musicians, Swift follows the promotional practice of releasing one or two singles in advance of an upcoming album. She bucks this trend by releasing the track that will generate the most press as opposed to what might be considered the best song.
In her new video, Swift courts media attention with references to her feuds with Kanye West, Katy Perry, Calvin Harris and the media itself. At the end of the music video she even recaps the criticism she has received throughout her career.
Under the guise of giving listeners a taste of her new album, Swift is boosting pre-orders so she can start making money before the actual release.
It doesn't matter whether the song is actually any good. Swift launched her product on a platform based on feuds and rumors. People bought into it - and bought the music.
A pre-order strategy should be baked into any launch, whether it's a book, podcast or product. This kind of tease can get people to buy into an entire brand as opposed to just one item.
Smash your own records
"Look What You Made Me Do" was played 43.2 million times in the first 24 hours of its release, not only surpassing Swift's release of her 2014 "Bad Blood," but topping the previous record for most views in a 24-hour period by seven million hits. The single shot to the number one spot on iTunes within 30 minutes and set the new global first-day streaming record on Spotify with over eight million streams.
It's anticipated that Swift could overtake the record for most albums sold in a week within the U.S (Adele's 25 is the current record holder, selling 3.5 million copies within the week of its release). Swift's talent for breaking records attracts even more media coverage, which in turn helps sell more records.
There's probably no platinum record above your mantelpiece, but you can create your own lofty goals. The old adage, if you shoot for the moon you get the stars, is as true in Hollywood as it is in business. When launching products, whether an album or a business-to-business service, consumers want to buy into the idea that you are always striving to best your last efforts.
Swift has a history of using her feuds with music industry icons like John Mayer, Nikki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Kanye West or Katy Perry to boost her own notoriety. When Katy Perry released her first album in four years, Taylor Swift simultaneously put her entire discography on Spotify, a platform from which she had previously, and very publicly, pulled her music.
Re-releasing her music on Spotify was big news. It increased Swift's digital play by 551 percent in one week, made her the most streamed artist on Spotify, and brought her album 1989 back into America's Top 40 albums after a year off the charts.
By releasing her entire catalog on the same day as Katy Perry's new album, Swift undercut Perry's streaming, downloads, and ultimately, revenue. When the rumor-mill suggested Swift had made this move as part of a Katy Perry-Taylor Swift feud, Swift's streaming and downloads only increased. Without directly commenting on her controversial relationships with Spotify and Perry, Swift managed to boost her business and cut off the competition.
You too can unleash your inner mean girl. Create controversy, or at least, a diversion, on a day you know a competitor will be holding an event, launching a new product or announcing a big change. Time your launch when your competition has no big news. You just might have a hit on your hands.