12 Lessons From JAY-Z’s 4:44 Album Release

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Caption: The Last Time I Got To Visit The Roc Nation Office was Dec. 2016.

Because I’ve never been good at math, and 4:44 equals 12, I’ve decided to share 12 lessons we can all learn from JAY-Z’s newest album release. Plus it is no secret that I’m a huge fan of JAY-Z & Beyonce. I’ve written extensively about my adoration for Beyonce. When it comes to JAY-Z, I am most inspired by his longevity, his willingness to take risks and his commitment to social justice and philanthropy (via the Shawn Carter Foundation). 

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JAY-Z’s newest album is set to drop on Tidal tomorrow, June 30th. I’ve been keeping a close eye from the initial announcement until now and wanted to share some tips that we can all adapt for our own enterprises:

  1. Create exclusivity which accelerates demand. We humans often find more value in things that are rare. By Jay-Z only offering his album through TIDAL, it creates more of a demand because it is more difficult to access. It will be interesting to view the metrics on TIDAL subscriptions between today (or actually dating back to the day before the public announcement of Jay-Z’s album) through 7 months (as Sprint is offering a ‘free’ TIDAL Subscription for 6 months). 
  2. Partner with other brands to amplify the message.  Sprint has 402K Subscribers on Twitter and 3.4 million “likes” on Facebook. JAY-Z is able to tap into their market through the shared social media campaign. The key to these kind of partnerships is to figure out a “win” for the brand. In the case of Sprint, they will obtain more subscribers from JAY-Z fans who make the switch, because they want the ‘free’ access to TIDAL. It also gives Sprint the opportunity to tap into the “hip-hop” community via JAY-Z’s fans who likely have a certain amount of disposable income. The listening parties are also happening inside Sprint Stores across the country, giving both brands an opportunity to tap into a different audience. 

screenshot3. Utilize fresh & unique colors. This peach & black color is an interesting combination. It is not a common color choice. It is also interesting that JAY is not including any representations of his physical self in the marketing that has occurred so far. It is likely connected to the content of the album and the overall creative vision of the project. What’s interesting is that that color scheme is now associated with JAY-Z and I’d imagine that we’ve all experienced enough impressions to make the association without even seeing the text. Notice that the add below does not have to even mention JAY-Z’s name or the name of the album. It just follows the brand identity.

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4. Tap into influencers and taste makers. JAY is hosting several album release parties around the country, utilizing well known DJs in each city. Each of the DJ’s are promoting the album release parties on their social media channels, giving more added value to SPRINT. This also taps into the exclusivity piece. Most of the cities are likely areas where JAY-Z has the greatest amount of fan support, which is why data & metrics are so important, because both allow you to take calculated risks.

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5. Utilize a variety of marketing platforms. Saturate the market. Utilize print and digital. Billboards and buses. The more that people see advertisements for the product, the more excited they become. The goal here is to make people feel like they are “surrounded” by your product.

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6. Use gamification whenever possible. Embed a puzzle/create a sense of mystery. Initially advertisements with the numbers 4:44 popped up in Times Square. Eventually we learned that is the album title. What does it mean? Is it a time that is significant to JAY? Is it a time that is significant to humanity? It piques people’s interest because they want to know what it means. Spotify used a similar strategy when just before Prince’s music became available on their platform they purchased billboards and other ad space with simply their logo in white on a purple background. See the spotify ad below.

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7. Let others do the talking for you. Allow your reputation to precede itself.  JAY-Z does have a Facebook page that is branded with the newest album and has been the primary source of distribution for most of the marketing materials. His Twitter Account is not branded with the album materials, but the product is well advertised on Twitter via Sprint, the influencers and the larger public. Lupita Nyongo shared a visual for the album here on her Facebook Page. Lupita is an accomplished actress, so tapping her to support this project is great, because again, there are going to be many fans of hers who may not be fans of JAY-Z (and vice versa). Not to mention she has 2.9 million “likes.” SPRINT is getting more impressions via Lupita’s page. screenshot

8. Align the personal and professional because it creates an echo effect. The world has been talking about the birth of The Carter Twins for the last two weeks. Jay-Z also made history earlier this month becoming the first rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Of course you want to hear from someone who is such a pioneer in the music space! It’s brilliant to release a project after a huge personal or professional milestone. When Blue was born, Jay released a singled called “Glory.” You can hear the song here.

9. Create dramatic visuals. In addition to the Lupita video, JAY dropped a similar black and white video of a black male running, seemingly out of breath. The videos are similar in length (10 – 20 seconds). The black and white is in stark contrast to the peach color of the album, but it is complimentary. Check out these stats on the power of video marketing from Boast.IO:

  1. Before reading any text, 60% of site visitors will watch a video if available. (Diode Digital)
  2. One minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. (Forrester Research)
  3. 56% of consumers believe if a company has a website, it should have video content. (Animoto)
  4. The Average user spends 16 minutes and 49 seconds a month watching online video ads. (ComScore)
  5. 80% of consumers say a video showing how a product or service works is important when learning about the company. (Animoto)
  6. Youtube has become the 2nd largest search engine – bigger than Bing, Yahoo, Ask, and AOL combined. (Etail Insights)
  7. Video search results have a 41% higher click-through than plain text results. (Animoto)
  8. 50% of marketers consider customer testimonials, explainer tutorial videos, and demonstration videos the most effective types of video content used. (Asend2)
  9. 4 out of 5 consumers day demo videos are helpful. (Animoto)
  10. Your website is 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of a search engines results page if it includes video. (Forrester Research)
  11. Online video accounts for 50% of mobile traffic, and is predicted to become 75% by 2016. (Cisco)
  12. 63% on consumers say companies who use video know how to reach their consumers. (Animoto)
  13. People stay 2 minutes longer on your site if you have video content. (ComScore)

10. Give people a short preview of what is to come. The videos seem to be a small piece of a larger story. They also include clips of the music. It never hurts to give a short preview of what is to come. The film industry has used this technique via trailers since 1913, and the fact that the practice still remains over 100 years later proves its value.

11. Once you have their attention, command the stage. You must have a clear CTA (Call to Action) once you’ve made all of this noise. It is clear that JAY-Z wants you to listen to (or maybe even watch?) the album, via the Sprint Platform, on TIDAL. Every single official thing that has been posted makes that clear. It is not enough to just post album artwork or project artwork. It is important to help people, help you, by informing them what you want them to do. It is also important that the message remain simple. When you have too many CTA’s it confuses and frustrates your audience.

12. Create multiple impressions over a specific timeline leading to the product release. Be very intentional about how you are going to market your product release. Utilize a calendar to actually plan out what will happen, when. Consider which brands, influencers and artists you can tap into, to support and amplify your work. The success (or failure) of your product or project release will be determined based on the metrics. Were you able to hit your targets in the timeline you planned?

I will definitely be up at midnight to experience the actual release of this project. I study brands like people watch sports, and I get so inspired and motivated by the brilliant things successful people do! Shout out to the entire Roc Nation Team and thank you for sharing your gifts with the world! Also, thanks for being so welcoming each time I’ve visited!

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