Justin Bieber Purpose Album Release Strategy Revealed
Justin Bieber Purpose Album Release Date: Friday November 13, 2015
Do you want to release an album like the biggest celebrities do? Coming up with an album release marketing strategy is one of the most ‘individualized’ tasks to undertake in the music business, next to the making of the music itself. There is a basic framework to work around, but it’s important to release an album the way you want to release it. Do whatever works for you.
For more specific examples to help you get your creative juices flowing, I’ve broken down the entire release strategy for one of the most popular albums by one of the most popular artists on the planet, Justin Bieber. His first album since 2012, ‘Purpose’, came out with a serious bang in November of 2015, earning his brand an entirely new and more mature fan base; and what seems like a world-shift into a Belieber-era. The music was in the making for over 3 years, and the planning of the public release of the music may have taken just as long. As an independent musician or manager, it is likely that you’ll want to start planning your album release approximately 1-2 years in advance depending on how big you want to go with it. The following breakdown does not include dates of how far in advance the Bieber Team began planning, moreover, it shows what exactly was shown to the public and when. This may have just been the most interesting album release I’ve seen to date, read on to find out why.
4 Months Ahead
1. Pre-Release of First Single
Name: “What Do You Mean?”
Theme: Ticking clock (song opens and closes with a clock ticking sound), and black and white
Pre-release: 30-day count-down on social channels for first single for the month of August
On July 29th they re-faced all Bieber social media accounts with the clock, song title and release date (Facebook cover photo, etc). Each day, and sometimes multiple times per day, they posted images and 15 second video clips of Bieber’s celebrity friends counting down the days until the release. These posts included drawings of clocks with the number of days remaining in the countdown, friends holding up signs, friends speaking in video clips, including friends like Miley Cyrus, who wrote “2 days left” on her pigs t-shirt.
2.5 Months Ahead
2. Day-of First Single Release
Date: August 28, 2015
On this day the Bieber Team hosted a 6 hour count-down in keeping with the clock-ticking theme, including a 30 minute warning, as well as a 5 minute warning. The ‘5 minutes left’ post included a compilation of fans holding up their own ‘What Do You Mean?’ signs. At the exact time of worldwide release, all Bieber social media accounts were re-faced simultaneously with the new single cover photo with text “available now”, including one that singled out the song being “available on Spotify now” in particular. In addition, they released the song with a lyric video available on Vevo and YouTube. The video includes a professional skateboarder scooting around while the lyrics flash across the screen. On this same day, after the lyric video was posted, they announced that the official music video is coming out on Vevo at 11pm on August 30th after the MTV Video Music Awards (VMA’s), and included a teaser clip of the video.
3. Official Music Video Release
Date: August 30, 2015
The Bieber Team aligned the release of the video with his performance at the MTV VMA’s. They hosted a short countdown to the VMA’s, including photo’s of behind the scenes footage and rehearsal videos with number of days left in the photo descriptions. On the evening of the VMA’s, Justin performed his new single ‘What Do You Mean?’, as well as his recent worldwide hit ‘Where Are You Now?’. In keeping with this momentum the official music video of ‘What Do You Mean?’ was released on Vevo and YouTube at 11pm, immediately following the broadcast.
2 Months Ahead
4. First Single Follow Up
Month of September
In the hours, days and weeks following the release, they posted on social accounts asking fans to post pictures of themselves singing the song. They also posted videos of fans dancing to the song, they shared funny meme’s of the song that fans around the Internet had made, random pictures and videos of Bieber and whatever he was up to that day, videos of his Dad singing and playing guitar, and multiple photos from the album photo shoot.
6 – 4 Weeks Ahead
5. Official Album Release Announcement
Pre-release: Month of September and October
Shortly after the music video release of the first single and still keeping with the original theme of black and white, they posted a simple image card that read “#nov13” with no further description. Sparking fans imagination of what could be coming on that particular day. In the first week of October they released the official album announcement with image cards that read ‘Purpose #6weeks’ on all social accounts. On October 13th, they announced “1 month to go, 3 years in the making”. Throughout the pre-release period they also posted funny and totally random images with ‘Purpose’ written on it, as well as throw back photos, and ‘in-the-now’ photos of what Justin is currently up to.
1 Month Ahead
6. Album Pre-Order Available
On October 15 almost exactly one month in ahead of the album release date, the Bieber Team re-faced all social accounts with the new album cover, album title, and the text ‘pre-order now’. In the month following, they posted a couple of videos of Justin telling people to pre-order, noting when it’s coming out, and tagging all of the collaborators in the posts.
7. Track-list Release
Approximately one month ahead of the album release, they released the official track-listing for the album via Instagram. For each individual song, they posted an image of the song written in graffiti art. Each track was written in graffiti in a different location around the world, by a different graffiti artist in each location. The tracks were posted in order, noting the location of each and the artist of each in the description. Immediately after all tracks were posted, they posted another image of the album cover with ‘pre-order now’ text.
8. Pre-release of Second Single
Theme: Black and white with album release cover and images of Justin
Pre-release: Second single announcement, plus 7 day-straight count-down
In the middle of October (about 1 month ahead) they announced the release of the second single from the album, and began to post image cards on each social account counting down the release of the second single ‘Sorry’, while simultaneously counting down the days to the full album ‘Purpose’. With 7 days left until the release of Sorry, they began a daily count-down on Instagram with same black and white Bieber picture, where he’s holding up a sign saying #sorry7days, #sorry6days, and so on.
3 Weeks Ahead
9. Day-of Second Single Release
Date: October 20, 2015
With only 3 weeks left until the release of the album, they officially released the second single, Sorry. Similar but in contrary to the first single, they released a video. This time it was not a lyric video, but instead, a dance video! The video includes a group of females doing flashy, colourful, nineties inspired, “polyswagg” choreography to the song. Bieber is not featured in the video. On this day they also posted image cards noting “available now on Spotify and Apple music”.
2 Weeks Ahead
10. Second Single Follow Up
Two days after the second single release, they followed it up by re-facing Facebook with the album cover, album title, and “pre-order purpose and get sorry instantly”, working from the momentum of the Sorry release and pushing pre-sales of the album. In addition, they posted a bunch of funny and random meme’s with “Sorry” written on it, just like they did the month prior for the Purpose announcement. On October 29th, they then released a lyric video for Sorry. The video was more interactive than your average lyric video. It included a female writing the lyrics everywhere she goes (digitally simulated). You see her typing the lyrics, writing them on the wall, writing them on paper, writing them while she moves throughout a house and out to the sidewalk. During this follow-up period fans are still kept up to date with what Bieber is currently up to, with day-to-day photos of what he’s up to, as well as promotional posts about each single and the upcoming album.
11. Third Single Release
Name: I’ll Show You
With no warning or pre-release, I’ll Show You was released to everyone’s surprise, available only on iTunes on Monday November 2, 2015, less than 2 weeks ahead of the album release. The only way to get the song was through the pre-order of the full album. However, they simultaneously released a music video on Vevo and YouTube where you could listen and watch. The video took place in Iceland, capturing exceptionally beautiful scenes of Icelandic landscapes, while Bieber explores the area; running, skateboarding, walking around and floating in the freezing water in his undies. On this day they posted teaser clips on Instagram saying “get the song by pre-ordering the album”, changed the Facebook cover photo changed to include “get I’ll show you and sorry instantly” with pre-order, and sent an email to their mailing list with the announcement.
Week Of Album Release
12. Fourth Single Release
Name: Love Yourself
With no warning or pre-release, a FOURTH single from the album was released to everyone’s surprise on Monday November 9, 2015 ONLY on Spotify and Apple Music. They posted image cards on social accounts of album cover and “Stream Now” with Apple Music and Spotify logos. This song in particular was highlighted on television, as the background song on all commercials that advertised the album.
13. ‘Bieber Week’ on Ellen DeGeneres
For the full 5 days leading up to the release, Ellen hosted an official ‘Bieber Week’ on her daily live show. Each day, Justin was featured in a different way. He performed Sorry acoustically, Ellen had a flash back video clip of all the times he’s been on Ellen from the beginning 8 years ago, played pranks on the audience members, and had interview time with Ellen. He also made some big announcements.
14. Announce Album Release Show
MONDAY: It wasn’t until the week-of the album release, that they announced on the Ellen show of the upcoming album release show at the Staples Centre in LA, which would also be broadcast live in Ellen.
15. Pop Up Merchandise Shop
TUESDAY: They posted #PurposePopUpTO (with no other information. Noting “stay tuned”.)
WEDNESDAY: Announced Canada’s first official Justin Bieber pop-up shop, to be opened in Toronto for the weekend following the release. Fans could attend the shop for exclusive music packages, merchandise, hourly giveaways and a photo booth. Justin did not attend.
16. World Tour Announcement
WEDNESDAY: They announced the Justin Bieber Purpose World Tour, while on Ellen, beginning March 9th for 58 dates until July (therefore announcing the tour over 7 months in advance), with tickets on sale the following week, November 20th. The Tour promotional materials all included a new press photo, keeping a similar look to the album theme, but not the same imagery.
17. Album Release Show
FRIDAY: Justin Bieber’s album ‘Purpose’ was released worldwide, following the new ‘world release Friday’ agreement, available for purchase on iTunes, and available for streaming on all major streaming channels such as Spotify and Apple Music. Justin performed live outside to thousands of fans in LA, with the whole world watching live on Ellen.
18. Multiple Music Video Releases
On Saturday November 14th, the Bieber Team released a new music video PER HOUR for each track on the album on Vevo and YouTube, in order of tracklisting. The video’s were announced with 15 second snippets on Instagram. Watch them all on Billboard.
3 Weeks After
19. Intimate Home Town Show
Shortly after, they announced a surprise acoustic show in Toronto, Canada to take place only 3 weeks after the album release. Though Justin is from a small town a few hours outside of Toronto, it’s the closest major city. Although all of Justin’s World Tour performances are held in major stadiums and arena’s, this particular show would be to a small audience of only 1500 people.
In summary, it appears that they decided to give 4 songs off the album their own mini release strategy. The songs they chose to release in advance of the album were all entirely different vibes. What Do You Mean? included a major 30 day countdown with celebrity friends, a lyric video and an official video and was made available everywhere. Sorry included a 6 day countdown with a dance video and a lyric video. I’ll Show You was released by surprise, with a simple music video, and only available on iTunes with pre-order of album. Finally, Love Yourself was also released by surprise, with no videos, and was only available on Spotify and Apple Music.
I understand Justin had an entire Bieber Team to help execute all of these actions, but I hope this got your mind moving to help you come up with some ideas for your own album release strategy now or in the future.