The surprise album drop isn't new.
On a random Thursday in December 2013, Beyonce announced on Instagram that her self-titled album was available on iTunes. For big names -- and few are bigger than Beyonce -- that strategy can work. Her album hit #1 on the Billboard charts the next week.
Bonus tracks are also not new. Often they only appear on physical product; while you can stream a new album, you have to buy the CD, vinyl, or cassette to get the bonus track.
That strategy also works, helping to move hard copies that even hard-core fans might otherwise not have purchased.
Taylor Swift has taken a different approach with her new album, Folklore. If you want the bonus track "The Lakes," you'll have to purchase a CD, vinyl, or cassette version... and you'll have to wait to receive it. CDs should ship within two to three weeks of purchase. Cassettes will take eight weeks. If you order a vinyl album, you'll have to wait four months.
And oh yeah: You'll have to make your purchase on Swift's website.
Sound odd? Maybe not. Swift's album is currently available for streaming; you can listen to 16 songs right now. In short, you can wear it out. And, in an age of abundance, move on to something else.
But then, when the physical product arrives, complete with bonus track... that might spark you to revisit the album and stream other songs as well. (Everyone I know who buys physical albums also streams songs from those albums; even for audiophiles, convenience matters.)
All of which means Swift wins on a number of levels: When a fan streams the album, when a fan orders a physical copy, and when receiving the physical product re-sparks a fan's interest in the album.
And, very likely, by controlling the means of ordering and fulfillment -- and collecting the resulting data.
Granted, the idea may have been in response to supply chain delays and retail store closures due to Covid-19.
But that doesn't diminish its effectiveness as a marketing strategy.
And might spark an idea you can apply to your business. Is there a creative way you can adapt your marketing strategy to take advantage of current conditions? Is there a service you can offer that makes it more likely customers will (almost automatically) return at a later date?
And do so in a way that not only delights your customers but increases their loyalty to your products, services, or brand?
In this case, Swift took a relatively common marketing strategy... and added a simple twist.
And maybe you can, too.