1. Stone Roses’ lemons
When a load of lemon posters sprung up in Manchester on November 2 – grouped in batches of 16 – fans didn’t dare pin too much hope on what it could mean. Something would be coming in 2016, but what would it be?
They weren’t kept waiting long. That evening the Roses announced two massive shows at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium in July 2016, as well as a set at T in the Park. The next day tabloids reported there would be an album too, and though there’s been no comment on that, a Stone Roses album is already favourite to win the 2016 Mercury Prize. The band have since added another two live dates in Manchester.
Fans were teased once more when a Stone Roses tribute band used the lemons tactic to drum up interest for their show in Doncaster later that month.
2. Coldplay’s quiet buzz
When mysterious artwork appeared on the London Underground, Coldplay fans realised frontman Chris Martin had been wearing a similar pattern just months before.
It turned out they were correct, as just a few days later the band confirmed the news via Twitter, wordlessly.
They really go their buzz on ten days before the release of the album, ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’, with these animated track snippets, released hourly on Instagram and Twitter.
3. TLC’s Kickstarter
Presumably riding the same wave of nostalgia that’s brought Craig David back into our lives, TLC posted the below video to Kickstarter and watched as the donations came rolling in. They almost tripled their $150,000 target thanks to a $5000 donation from Katy Perry.
They said in September that the album wouldn’t be out until 2016, and fan reactions have been fairly vitriolic in response – but all publicity is good publicity right?
4. Rihanna not releasing ‘Anti’
Another non-releaser was Rihanna, who spent 2015 trolling just about everyone with tiny tidbits from her eighth album ‘Anti’. It’s now been three years since ‘Unapologetic’, but she used to release an album a year. What’s going on?
Well, we’ve seen ‘FourFiveSeconds’, her collaboration with Kanye and Paul McCartney. That came in January. Next was ‘American Oxygen’, followed by ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’. All three singles had videos, each very different from the other.
She’s been in Dior commercials using her music (the one above uses a Florence sample). She dropped a stoner-y interlude, ‘James Joint’, on 4/20.
Then she launched Anti Diary, a website partnership with Samsung where you can use your phone to look around her old bedroom for clues.
Basically, no one has a clue what’s going on, and her marketing campaign’s a bit of a mess, really, but everyone’s been talking about her all year. Genius.
5. Iron Maiden’s game
Iron Maiden launched an 8-bit game called Speed Of Light to promote their new album ‘Book Of Souls’. It was retro and fun and probably cost about 50p to make. The CG video was probably more expensive.
6. Avicii’s instagram ‘Stories’
To promote his new album ‘Stories’ Avicii created a load of Instagram pages and linked them with a ‘choose your own’ narrative. Each page had nine images to create a larger whole, and by clicking the links on the binary options on each page, you ended up with different results – one for all the tracks on the album – presumably increasing Spotify plays for every single track. Clever. Start playing by clicking the link in the Instagram embed below.
7. New Order’s Singularity
How do you enter the digital age for the first time as an older band? By getting all your mates and those you influenced to give their own testimonials about how awesome your music is. Singularity was a page with tributes from established artists to help ground New Order’s online presence. Check it out here.
8. The Vine-able lyrics on Drake’s surprise release
Not a campaign exactly, but when Drake dropped ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’ on iTunes one night in Feburary, no one was expecting it. Its sudden impact had everyone on Vine using its songs for on-trend lols, which is as organic as marketing gets, really.
9. Nostalgia FM
The Co-operative’s insurance arm launched this jukebox based on drivers’ test-passing dates and gave them a Spotify playlist based on that month in music. There’s a lot of pop there, but sometimes it’s actually pretty good.
Another ‘get involved’ campaign had Spotify users finding out how on top of new trends they were. The data told you how quickly you caught on to new bands before they got big – a digital cool badge, basically – although crowing about it doesn’t help, really.
11. Bieber’s parade of slebs
‘What Do You Mean’ was anticipated by 28 days of celebrities posted on Justin Bieber’s feed, all holding signs advertising the release. That’s what we call HYPE.