Over the last couple of months I’ve been watching with interest the ‘pre-sell’ campaign for Taylor Swift’s upcoming album 1989. In fact, it launches on Monday the 27th October – the day that I publish this post.
And it’s been interesting to see the single Shake It Off used as the central pillar that this pre-selling campaign has been hung on – especially in conjunction with YouTube.
Let’s look at the campaign in more details.
Step 1 – Teasers
In early August Swift started the buzz amongst her fans by posting a video on instagram, tweeting a cryptic photo and tweeting an image of a Yahoo Home Page.
This led to Step 2.
Step 2 – Announce The Product
Swift announced the new album in a live stream – and at the end of the live stream announced that the album was available for pre-order and the official video for the single Shake It Off was published on YouTube.
This song is the lead song from the album – take a look at this screenshot where you can see the short description that’s been entered into the video:
Notice the offer there for Taylor fans: pre-order the album 1989 today and get the MP3 of the song immediately.
Now Swift has probably promoted the song with live appearances on various shows – I believe she appeared on The X Factor in the UK. And as well as promoting Shake It Off as a single, she also promoted the upcoming release of 1989. (Also check out the impressive number of views on the video….220 million!)
Step 3 – Additional Launch Content
On September 11th more content was released on Youtube. These were three “out-take” style videos where Swift is interviewed and talks about segments of the Shake It Off video featuring different styles of dancers.
If you check out the info on the screenshot, you’ll see the offer for fans who pre-order the album that we saw on the originl video. We’ll look at that pre-offer in a moment. Here’s the screenshot:
Step 4 – Additional Launch Content
Here’s how more launch content was sed:
September 16th – Outtake Video 4 published to YouTube
September 23rd – Outtake Video 5 published to YouTube
September 30 – Outtake Video 6 published to YouTube
October 7th – Outtake Video 7 Published to YouTube
October 14th – Outtake Video 8 Published to YouTube
Additionally on October 18th Swift added a further track as a download for pre-orders, a song called Out Of The Woods. And on October 20th a third song from the album was added as a download for pre-orders – Welcome To New York.
Don’t forget that all of these ‘static’ promotional activities were combined with personal appearances and interviews on chat shows, music shows and the like.
Let’s move on and examine the pre-sell offer.
The Pre-Sell Offer
There were two components to the Pre-Sell offer being used:
- Three different versions of the album available
- Entry in to a competition called the ‘Taylor Swiftstakes.’
Here’s a screenshot showing the pre-sell details and the three different product levels:
And as well as getting one of the album versions on release date, fans who pre-purchased the album were also entered into a draw where there were 1,989 prizes to be won:
Results Of The Pre-Sell
These results are UK results….and were taken on Sunday, 26th October prior to the official album release. First here’s a screenshot from iTunes in which you can see that the album is #5 on the iTunes chart:
And here’s a screenshot from Amazon showing that the album was #4 overall in Amazon’s music chart, and #2 in the ‘Pop Music’ bestseller list on Amazon:
On the morning of 27th October around 8 AM UK time I cross-checked the Amazon.com listing – and the album was #1 on the Amazon.com music chart. I just read on Wikipedia that Shake It Up also debuted in the US singles charts at #1.
I’ll update later this week with more results on various charts as well.
I’ll post later in the week some thoughts on how some of the strategies that Swift used could be adapted for an info product (e.g. a course, or a book).
Here are the main takeaways from looking at this launch:
- The record company for (arguably) the biggest female singer in the world currently used a comprehensive pre-sell strategy for an eagerly awaited new album from a singer with a big fan base. And this started two and a half months before the album’s release.
- Notice the progression from teaser announcements, to unveiling of the upcoming product (the album) and the use of an excerpt (the single) to build the launch campaign around.
- This one isn’t specifically spelled out in the information above – but 1989 represents a shift from ‘country’ to ‘pop’ by Taylor Swift. And to forestall objections to this, in interviews Swift talks about this switch plus Shake It Off is about her reaction to other people’s reactions. This is about killing objections in two ways – by talking about it, and by showing the ‘new’ style in the single. (Additionally the single/album was produced and co-written with a songwriting team who worked on songs on the last Swift album – so emphasizing continuity to help bring fans to the new album who might be put off by talk of ‘going pop.’)
- Another point not specifically spelled out above – on all the pre-sell pages there are social media buttons to help her fans share details of the pre-sell itself and of the competition. And hopefully to create buzz.
- Use of different social media channels ranging from Instagram to Youtube to a live stream on Yahoo and all the personal appearances on conventional TV.
In this post we’ve looked at the pre-launch for Taylor Swift’s 1989 album.
And it’s instructive to note that the album released today, October 27th, but that the pre-sell started in early August.
The pre-sell was cleverly built around the first single off the album – Shake It Off. Different forms of media were released as well as lots of personal appearances. And the results have been impressive – the single debuted in the US Chart at #1 and early on the day of official release it was #1 on Amazon.
Later in the week we’ll look at some ways we could model some of what has been done with this launch and see how we could apply them to a conventional info product.