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Where’s the Hype?

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Aug 23, 2018.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from chorus.fm for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    A conversation in the Thrice album thread got me thinking this morning. Does hype around an album even matter anymore? In the past, the idea of a hyped release meant that a lot of people would be anticipating, talking about, and building “buzz” for the release. The thinking went that the more hype around a release, the better it’d sell, then there’d be more people out on tours, you’d get bigger and better tours, and then you’re on your way. The time between announcing an album and releasing it into the world seemed to, in theory, be built around coordinating and focusing this hype as you built toward release week and getting those first week sales. But here, in 2018, does this hype really mean anything and can we measure its success?

    Over the past few months I can’t think of many rock bands that had more buzz, or “hype,” than the most recent Foxing release. All the right publications were talking about it. All the right “taste makers” liked it. Premieres on all the right websites. Features were written. Cool, unique, campaigns. Awesome podcasts. And it was all backed by, in my opinion, one of the best albums so far released this year. It came, it was released into the world, and it sold just fine in the first week. (Around 3,500 copies.) So, by quite a few of the metrics we’ve always used to define what a good album rollout looks like, this one had it all. It had the buzz. It had the “hype.” It had our forums anticipating the album from announcement all the way up to the day it was released into the world. The question I started asking myself this morning, was centered on if this was actually effectively better than the Thrice album rollout — which seems to have die-hard fans upset because there isn’t enough to keep them interested. And, furthermore, how do we adequately measure “hype” and if it matters in the rock or alternative music world today?

    I suppose where I come down is that it’s probably better for an album cycle to build this hype than not. I’d also argue that it seems easier to build this kind of buzz when you’re a young, or new, band than it is when you’re on record nine, and that it’s not a guaranteed predictor of album sales until you reach a critical mass that I don’t see many rock bands hitting in 2018. One of the goals of a tight and controlled album rollout is that you can focus your attention for a specific moment in time on getting all your biggest supporters in on the upcoming release, sell some albums and concert tickets, and hope to use that momentum and internet chatter to catch the ears of new fans as well. That seems good, but I don’t know if I buy into the idea that announcing an album “too early” or there being a large amount of time between a song and the album release itself, is really causing an artist to lose out on anything.

    The short of it is that I think complaining about album cycles and rollouts have become the norm, and I’m not quite sure why. The back and forth about what bands should do, or what works and doesn’t work, seems to be never ending without any way of really controlling for all the variables to determine what the ideal cycle should be. Thrice and Alkaline Trio are both releasing albums on Epitaph Records in the next few months, but the way the two albums were announced to fans and rolled out to the masses have been quite different. Alkaline Trio came roaring out of the gate, gave us all the information, we’ve heard two songs, and the album will be here next week. Thrice released “The Grey” almost three months ago. Pre-orders were two months ago. And the album’s still a couple of weeks away. As a fan, I understanding wanting to shrink the time between finding out an album is coming and when you actually get it. But I’m becoming less convinced with time that “hype” is a thing that we can measure and even leaning toward the idea that it’s not as effective or needed as a marketing strategy as we once thought. I don’t think Alkaline Trio will do better than they would have otherwise because of a short rollout, and I don’t think Thrice are going to do worse than they would have if their album was coming out tomorrow.

    I think what these conversations do say is that there’s a lot of listeners that are looking to connect with music, and artists, in new and engaging ways. They want to feel like they’re part of something special. They want to buy into what it means to be a “fan” of a specific artist and feel a connection there. When fans complain about an album rollout I think they’re saying they want more. Maybe they remember the first time they discovered a band and the anticipation leading up to release week. Maybe release weeks just don’t mean as much as they once did and the magic surrounding them is a thing we’re never getting back. (Thanks, Napster.) But from my reading of the forums, and other social media platforms, it does seem like there’s an underserved portion in rock music fandom that is looking for artists to find ways to reach them and engage them again. Beyond that, I think the ideal album cycle or rollout should focus on what makes the most sense for an artist and their schedule and what they want. Internet commenters said Paramore and Fueled by Ramen blew it with their After Laughter rollout, but they missed (or conveniently overlooked) the band, and especially Hayley Williams, explaining that this kind of release was exactly what they wanted and why it was needed for their mental health. I don’t think we factor that into these discussions enough.

    I’m curious to hear other thoughts on this matter. Do you think hype matters? Why do you think we’ve been talking about album cycles, rollouts, and announcements with the furor that we have over the past few years? Are we focusing on the wrong things by trying to systematically dictate what every album rollout should look like for every artist? I don’t know for sure, but I’m far less convinced that the “hype” or “buzz” around a new rock band matters as much as it once did.

     
  2. Butinsmallsteps

    Regular

    Really enjoyed this piece. I agree with how it’s super hard to judge if hype will help an album but I have also found it increasingly to judge if an album even has hype. There’s so many different circles talking about their own specific things. It’s so easy to isolate yourself in a world where certain things seem huge and others seems small and it can be completely different when you look at real world numbers. Idk basically I agree hype means less and less and it’s really more about just having something that latches on and has staying power after it’s released
     
  3. paperlung

    there's no place like my room Supporter

    I get hyped, but I really have one or two people to share with that aren't on this site haha. Otherwise I just internalize the hype and wait for the albums to come. I do somewhat miss when I wasn't as in tune with my favorite bands and I would get surprised that they had been planning an album.

    I do think there's something to be said about not showing your whole hand as far as a release goes. Idc if it's drawn out, but if I have 5 singles and the picture/theme of the album is already somewhat clear to me, I think the release can be somewhat of an underwhelming event.

    edit: wrong 'there'
     
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  4. This is something I thought about a lot too. Because it used to bug me as well. But then I realized that those kinds of album rollouts aren't for us. They've already got us. They're for the YouTube single listening Spotify playlist group. Constant stimulation. Most of those people aren't going full album anyway, so the longer span to see if something catches on is beneficial. We say "damn, I've heard half the album already" because we're the album listener type. But I think we're a rare breed.
     
  5. I have found myself actually staying away from pre-release tracks, lyric videos, and other similar types of "hype" over the last two years. I think it has a lot to do with streaming music taking over -- my mindset is completely different now.

    I used to have to make some choices ahead of release day each week so I wouldn't break the bank by the time I got to the record store. I'd negotiate with myself on the way over to Best Buy to make sure I only picked out 2 (maybe 3) albums. I'd have to rely on all the pre-release hype to help me make those tough decisions.

    While I'm still excited and look forward to Friday morning releases, I wake up and just add as many albums as I'd like to my library (then spend the week listening to them at my leisure). I find that listening to the hype tracks just leaves me frustrated that I can't listen to the whole thing right then in the pre-release time period. It feels like my brain has re-wired itself to need/want this type of experience instead of singles or one-off tracks.

    The other realization I've come to is that hype doesn't typically represent the whole piece of work. I've been burned many times by 30-second preview videos--bands in slow motion, black and white scenes--with just a snippet of a song playing in the background, that end up sounding nothing like that song (or album) as a whole. I remember when Sam's Town by The Killers was being promoted there was this promo video of the slow part during "When You Were Young" playing which made me super interested in this more melodic, different-paced second Killers album. The end result was completely different.

    Same story with over-hyped reviews that come out before the album has been released. I sometimes worry that journalists rush through reviewing an album and provide their opinion only based on a few listens. I've learned to not read these reviews because they greatly sway my opinion (positive or negative) before I even hear the music.

    In summary, hype doesn't matter for me. I will give the new Thrice album just as much attention as any other album I'm excited about, regardless of the hype.
     
  6. iCarly Rae Jepsen

    got my own hell to raise Platinum

    I think there's too much content out there to get hyped, I inevitably forget what's coming out until the day of
    I think it was easier to be hyped when it felt like there was just one or two albums or whatever to get excited out now it feels like there's a billion
     
  7. Joe DeAndrea

    Regular

    I feel like the older I get the less time I have to devote being hyped around an album. Once it comes out, great, I'll love it, I'll be obsessed with it, but until then it's just not really on my mind too much.

    But then again I dunno if there's much to have on my mind anyway. Back in middle school I'd spend the whole day waiting to get home just to listen to the latest CIWWAF e-card that would have a 15 second clip of a new song lol so the hype I felt for records back then seemed driven by the unknown. I loved scouring the internet for an album's track listing, etc. Now everything is just kinda thrown at you at once since a single usually coincides with the iTunes pre-order.
     
  8. paperlung

    there's no place like my room Supporter

    Agreed - I think my hype is limited to a select few artists. Someone like kendrick lamar will always get my hype, but other bands I'll be excited for on release day and if it sticks it sticks.
     
  9. Drew Beringer

    @drewberinger Moderator

    I’m the most important of taste makers right @Jason Tate ;-)
     
  10. atlas Aug 23, 2018
    (Last edited: Aug 23, 2018)
    atlas

    Trusted

    I feel like the driving factor behind complaints re: album rollouts is selfishness. I love Thrice, in a perfect world I wouldn't choose to wait 3 months after the first single to hear the album. But I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with what Epitaph is doing with the release. If the music is good and everyone is into it, people aren't going to be looking back months and years after the fact and say "gee, I wish the album came out a month and a half after the single instead of 3 months", they're going to talk about how much they love the album. Genuinely botched promotion cycles do happen but are pretty rare imo, if it feels like no one listened to an album or there was no hype it was probably because people just didn't like it enough (see: final letlive album)
     
  11. Good topic for discussion.

    In Thrice's case, I would say that the long roll-out was a wise move because TBEITBN gave them legs on rock radio that they'd completely lost post-2005. As presumably the best radio single that the new album had to offer, "The Grey" has now had 10 whole weeks to slowly climb up the Billboard Mainstream Rock Charts. Just this week, it hit a new peak of #24, with the potential of reaching more and more fans prior to the release of Palms.

    Outside of the radio aspect, the most important thing for a Thrice rollout, in my opinion, is simply that as many fans as possible KNOW that an album is coming out. 2-3 months provides enough time to get everyone in-the-know, from people who've been into them since 2001 (yet have potentially fallen off or don't keep up very actively anymore) to the people who only discovered the band by hearing "Black Honey" or "Hurricane" on the radio.

    Concerning "hype" specifically, I don't think I can speak for anyone but myself, but I'm easily at a point with Thrice, (and with many of the bands/artists I actively listen to), that I will purchase their albums whether I'm hyped for it or not. With Thrice in particular, plenty of forum users are well aware that I'm in the minority that views Major/Minor as first-tier Thrice and TBEITBN as second-tier, which leaves me feeling jaded and pessimistic about the band's post-hiatus output. I'm still going to buy it, regardless. Similarly, I had extremely big doubts about whether I would like the new Underoath album or the new Fall Out Boy albums, but my relationship to both bands made me want to support them and buy the albums regardless. (For the record, I loved both.)

    Hype really does nothing for me concerning the artists I already enjoy. Sometimes, over-hyping an album can cause me to be very disappointed with it upon initial release, only to reevaluate the album's merits months (or years!) later. The main function hype serves in my life is getting me to check out artists I've never heard before, or in some cases, getting me to check out new albums by bands I'd written off in the past.

    A perfect example of this happened on September 4, 2015, when I bought four albums: two brand new releases I was extremely hyped up about (The Dear Hunter's Act IV and The Wonder Years' No Closer to Heaven) and two albums that had been very hyped up to me by others (Dawes' All Your Favorite Bands and Jazmine Sullivan's Reality Show). Both TDH and TWY turned out to be pretty big disappointments for me, whereas the albums by Dawes and Sullivan became two of my top 5 favorites of the year.
     
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  12. Good point that Jordan brought up on Twitter too:

     
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  13. japankyku

    Newbie

    The 1975 is the best at this kind of thing.
     
  14. mmhmm

    Regular Prestigious

    I agree with so many comments in this thread. I think hype is often based on expectation stemming from our past personal/emotional connections to a band's music combined with the unknown of yet-to-be-released music from that band, with varying degrees of marketing magic sprinkled in to the mix. And much of the mystery/hype surrounding upcoming music is disappearing due to how much access we now have to content.

    I think the kind of hype we're talking about here often originated because of lack of access. We were subject to a process that was well-designed to coordinate with how music/content was being consumed at that point in time. Now the access equation has flipped and control over how and when we consume music is almost entirely in our hands--the exception of course being release timelines.

    But I would argue release timelines are less important in the hype formula than ever, simply because we have so much other content to occupy while we wait out the calendar for expected content to drop, which will then occupy us until the next release and repeat. How do I have the mental capacity to get hyped when I have all this other content to consume/occupy me until whatever arbitrary date a label/band has set for a release arrives? I mean, it's not arbitrary to them and I respect that--I agree that there are certain rollouts that work well for bands and it's in their best interest to do it that way. But as a consumer, the release date is just another date that'll eventually arrive and pass, with varying amounts of anticipation leading up to it depending on the band.

    All that to say, I think the way we consume content today has made hype seem like a thing of the past for the most part. I dunno, I kind of just rattled off my thoughts. Not sure if they make sense or are coherent.
     
    Jason Tate likes this.
  15. disambigujason

    Trusted Supporter

    Yea I’m just echoing now but at least for me personally hype is hard to build since there’s so much else to preoccupy myself with. I suppose there is the occasional artist who generates a lot of visible hype that translates to sales and new fans but I feel like for a lot of bands I already listen to it’s mostly about, as someone said earlier, making sure as many current/old fans are as aware as possible.
     
  16. TerrancePryor

    twitter.com/terrancepryor Prestigious

    Hype is somewhat meaningless nowadays since it's honestly all about going viral. Foxing are just now headlining 500 cap venues off their third record. Hobo Johnson, who went viral in March with "Scones", sold out 500 - 600 cap venues across North America and Europe on his first ever tours. This fall, he'll be headlining 1,000 cap venues. I Prevail went viral from a Taylor Swift cover and started headlining 1,500 - 2,000 cap venues off their debut album.

    I've seen MANY bands brag about their Pitchfork review or their Billboard piece, but they don't sell anything. That's the end all for many acts. If you're not doing well on the Billboard charts or blowing up on the Internet, it'll be harder for you to get on bigger tours.
     
  17. Connor

    we're all a bunch of weirdos on a quest to belong Prestigious

    So I think I’m the one that spawned the conversation in the Thrice thread because i mentioned how even though they are one of my favorite bands and have been since i was 13, I’m not as hyped for Palms as I should be. If you asked me at the beginning of the year what my most anticipated would be... it would have been Thrice. But i feel that it’s been overshadowed by other releases, but I’m not sure why. I don’t think it has anything to do with the release schedule for me. It hasn’t been my favorite rollout, but it hasn’t been what’s killed the hype. I’m just more excited for mewithoutYou and boygenius at this point.

    I will say though, my favorite rollout in recent memory was Manchester’s A Black Mile. It was a pretty quick rollout with interesting and unique aspects with the phone numbers and such. I’ve also loved mewithoutYou’s rollout this year even though it’s more straightforward.

    Anyways... the rollout doesn’t necessarily lessen hype for me, but it can increase it.
     
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  18. DrownTheWorkforce

    Regular

    Honestly, nothing hypes an album more than long gaps between albums.

    That’s different from comeback albums, which have disappointed more often than not (ATDI, Refused). Then again, I wasn’t huge into Material Control either.
     
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  19. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    I think the chase to make it on as many Spotify/Apple Music playlists is really ultimately what has killed hype for me. Seems like every artist releases 5-6 tracks before the album comes out, because then they can make it on the New Music Friday playlists multiple times/maybe land on a few other playlists with big followings. I get the strategy, but I do think it's a bummer for the people who actually care about the artist/album.

    Like, one of my favorite releases of the year is the debut full-length from Ruston Kelly. That's still two weeks out and he's released 7 of the 14 songs in some form. He definitely has some buzz around him, but I feel like 2-3 songs probably would have sufficed. I'd be curious to know what kind of streaming numbers artists like that get for their pre-release singles.

    The focus on building hype is definitely irritating in country, where the labels will either release an EP for a new artist or drop singles for 2-3 years before finally letting those artists make albums. It makes it a challenge to follow new talent, especially because they might never actually get to make an LP if the label doesn't see much hype.

    Ironically, it's usually the album that builds the hype for artists in that genre, in part because country fans still buy physical albums. There's this girl Lindsay Ell who I first heard about in 2015 and who only released her debut album like a year ago. The label tried to build hype with singles for three years, but all they really needed to do was put the album out there. Now she's charted 3-4 hits in a row.
     
  20. theasteriskera

    Regular Supporter

    Thanks for sharing this piece Jason. I've always been a huge fan of album rollouts, & vividly remember the hype of so many of my favorite bands and albums. I personally think they still matter, but I'm an audiophile who buys way more records and attends way more shows than the average person. I'm not sure there is a right or wrong way to create a buzz for making these types of announcements because everything is so dynamic; number of fans, dedication of fans, backing by a label, how far into their career an artist is, etc etc...

    Just a few takes on different rollouts of recent memory

    I remember Transit doing "Transit Thursday's" for Joyride's roll out, where they released a new song every week until the album came out. I love Transit, I love Joyride, but I didn't care for being able to hear every song on the album before it's release. It didn't change how much I enjoyed the record, or whether I would preorder the album, or attend shows supporting the album, but it left me with no anticipation and curiosity about what the album would be like because I had already heard it all.

    The 1975 and Panic at the Disco are HUGE bands that are topping Billboard charts & selling out arenas, & their rollouts have been cryptic & fun, & leave a lot up to the imagination of the fan. I think that an artist probably needs to be a chart-topping band to be able to execute these cryptic, guerilla-marketing style campaigns. I'm not sure where I'm going with this other than saying they're really fun.

    Brand New & Beyonce are at completely different levels of stardom, but they do both have insanely dedicated fans, & have both achieved great success with surprise releases. The internet literally breaks for them, it's insane. I don't really care for the surprise release because I enjoy the anticipation.

    Hit The Lights is my favorite band, & their career has been insanely fun to watch. Each album rollout was very different & circumstances were different for them personally with each album. Losing a lead singer between albums could very well destroy an artist's career, but they catapulted with the release of Skip School, Start Fights. A few years later, I remember their being a lot of hype for Invicta, but that album left a lot of people disappointed. Currently they're still a band but all live in different areas of the country, so they're not particularly active. They'll play shows here & there, & release songs on occasion, but don't have plans for albums & tours. I'm only excited for these songs because they're my favorite band, I really don't feel that too many other people are too excited for the way they're "rolling things out" the way they are.
     
    Jason Tate likes this.
  21. Dog Fish

    soups up

    @Jason Tate remember that scene in Hook when Tink is trying to help Peter remember being Peter Pan? This is sorta like this. Remember back to the time when you didn't have the chance to listen to every single album ever months in advance? It's probably easy to not care about long winded release dates. Please. Remember.
     
  22. CMilliken

    Trusted

    Really nice rightup Jason. Throughly enjoyed that read as it’s something I contemplate often.

    I personally think it’s the long album rollouts with half the album being released before the official release date. I try my best to stay away from singles after the first one is released. I want to listen to the album as a whole. I’m not a playlist type of person. I want to be excited to wake up Friday morning and dig into an album. Listen to it over and over throughout the day.

    But when you announce an album out in January of 2019 (BMTH) put out a single, and I’m sure there will be several more to come out, it just doesn’t get me hyped.

    I wish more artists did the surprise release thing. We all saw how much hype Science Fiction got. I know that was a very special case and not all bands can pull that off. I really liked Real Friends’ rollout this year. They did release a few singles but they announced it and about a month or so later the album was out.

    So what I’m getting at I guess is I feel like shorter rollouts keep the hype going to me instead of dragging it out.
     
  23. paythetab

    Chorus.FM Album Reviewer (Adam Grundy) Supporter

    Very well-written post, Jason. I think "hype" has really changed over the past few years. Before, album release dates would be teased in magazines, singles would be released months before on radio, and bands would conduct interviews to tease their new direction. Now, surprise releases are becoming the norm, esp since a Tweet from an artist can carry a lot of weight and create buzz as well. If an album just suddenly drops, such as Fall Out Boy's latest EP, then there is no time for hype to happen. However, if the opposite happens, and the album is teased tirelessly through a "trickle effect" on either social media or other platforms, I believe that one of two things might happen: Hype increases, or fans start to get annoyed by the fact that so much is being teased with very little to show for it.

    Just my $.02...
     
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  24. J.Dick

    Regular

    I'm not sure it matters anymore. I remember standing in lines outside record stores for midnight releases but that isn't really a thing. Now I just open Apple Music and add to my library.
     
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