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Rihanna ANTI Album Release Strategy Revealed

ANTI Cover photo

Rihanna ANTI Album Release Strategy Revealed

Rihanna ANTI Album Release Date: Worldwide on iTunes Friday January 29, 2016
Released Worldwide (by accident?) on Tidal on Thursday January 28th, 2016

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 and do whatever works best for you.

For more specific examples to help you get your creative juices flowing, I’ve broken down the release strategy for one of the most popular albums by one of the most popular artists on the planet, Rihanna. Her first album since 2012, ‘ANTI’, came out (fumbling) in January of 2016. She released 2 singles in 2015, however both of them are not included on ANTI. As you’ll read through this article, the album was actually released a day early on Thursday January 28th to users of music streaming service, Tidal. According to news sources and gossip around the world, this was a mistake.

As an independent musician or manager, it is likely that you’ll want to start planning your album release anywhere from 6 months to 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 Team RiRi began planning, moreover, it shows what exactly was released to the public and when.

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3 Months Ahead

1. Album Pre-Release Marketing

Name: “ANTI”
Album Name Release: First week of October
Album Title and Cover Reveal: Second week of October
Release Date: Unknown until the day it releases

In the first week of October, they posted an image on Rihanna’s social media channels of the definition of ANTI.

Rihann ANTI definition

In the second week of October, they posted a couple of images of the new album artwork, tagging the artist in the photo’s. First they posted a crop of the front cover with the hashtags #ANTI, and #coverart; then the back cover with the hashtags #ANTI, and #backcoverart; and finally the full front cover with just the hashtag “ANTI. No photos included any descriptions other than the hashtags.

ANTI Cover photo preview


2 Months Ahead

2. Album Pre-Release Teasers

Date: Last week of November until mid-January
After going MIA on social media for a good month, Rihanna’s social’s sparked up a bit in the beginning of November for her collaboration with Puma and another holiday collection with Stance Muse. There were multiple behind the scenes videos and photos with Puma promoting the shoe line ‘Fenty’ by Rihanna for Puma. Following this they began posting video teaser clips. Though the background music isn’t a coherent song – so it’s not quite a music preview. You see a door opening, with screen text asking “are you in?” and closing with, followed by a SAMSUNG logo (Samsung clearly sponsored the project).

Clarification: ANTIdiaRY is a play on DIARY and RIHANNA. Rihanna’s nickname is RiRi. DiaRi. Diary. Anti Diary. When you visit you see the same teaser video playing; however the text on the screen tells you to go to visit the website on your mobile device where you can watch the video of the “First Room”.

The entire album release count-down concept is about opening doors to the ‘rooms’. Each room is suppose to represent each album she has created from Music Of The Sun to Unapologetic, until the ANTI bedroom is revealed. Based on the definition, she wanted to do almost a recap of her other albums so fans could see the growth and change in direction for ANTI. Each ‘room’ is in the format of a series of videos only available to watch on your phone.

First week of December: Instagram teaser of the second room being open.
Second week of December: Instagram teaser video of the 3rd room being open. Samsung promo at the end with a phone being thrown at the screen with a logo on it.
Second week of December: Teaser video of 4th room being open.
Third week of December: Welcome to room 5 of the ANTIdiaRY.
Fourth week of December (Christmas): Experience room 6.
First week of January: Discover room 7.

It’s up to the viewer to interpret each video, but here is one unknown viewers response:

The first video she is being demonic possessed. Second video she’s telling you to open the door for Satan because he will give you richness, it shows her looking poor at first. Third video is the mark of the beast on the forehead. Fourth video she is being tormented by demons. Fifth video shows how those who follow Satan will get together to destroy anyone who rejects the mark of the beast. And the last video shows as if the devil wins the war, which is a lie.

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2 Months Ahead

3. World Tour Announcement

Date Announced: November 23, 2015

On this date they post some graphic art of the world tour announcing that tickets go on sale on December 3rd (typical 1-2 announcement prior to tickets on sale). What’s not typical is that they announce the tour with only a 3 month notice before the tour starts… in February.

The caption notes “#ANTIworldtour coming February 2016! Pre-sale starts November 30th with American Express at Public on sale Dec 3rd.”

ANTI world tour with Weeknd

The Weeknd and Big Sean opened for the Europe/UK leg, Travis Scott opened for the North American leg.

The caption read: “Europe and UK I’m excited to be coming back.” She thanks The Weeknd for joining her and congratulates him on an outstanding year in music. Following this post, she posted multiple tour announcement images with various text written on it, with different captions each time. Some noted pre-sale for select dates available for Tidal members.

Rihanna World Tour Feature

In mid-December they had ‘more tour dates added’ announcements.

Listening to ANTI

During the week of the new single and album release (while the world still has no clue it is coming), Rihanna posts that she is listening to ANTI.

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1 Day Ahead

4. Surprise First Single Release on Tidal and iTunes Only

Name: Work Feat. Drake
Date: Thursday January 27th
On the day before the album release, they updated her Facebook cover photo to the single artwork, saying ‘available now’. On Instagram, the caption was ‘FIRST SINGLE #WORK ft.@champagnepapi from #ANTI out now. Stream & download here:’. On this same day, the final Door of ANTIdiaRY becomes open (Door 8).

WORK single cover image


5. Surprise (Accidental) Album Release on Tidal Only

On Thursday January 27, only a few hours after the first single was released, most of the album (not the full album) was accidentally released on Tidal. Just the sole fact that all albums released by major labels are to be released on ‘World Release Day’ — FRIDAY — reiterates that it was highly likely an accident. All major news sources claimed it was leaked by accident, which were followed by a news source explaining that Tidal blamed it on Universal Music, Rihanna’s label distributor.

Many hours after this accidental release, they posted on Rihanna’s Facebook and Twitter that they’re giving away the album for free.


At midnight, they updated her Facebook cover photo to reflect the new album cover along with one post with a free album link.

After you downloaded, you received an email with the song files, as well as a 60 day free trail offer to Tidal.

6. Surprise DELUXE Album Release on iTunes

Shortly after the free album giveaway, the official ‘deluxe’ album released on iTunes. The deluxe album included 3 additional songs that weren’t included in the freebee, nor on the accidental Tidal release.

Tweeted at 10pm: Get #ANTI deluxe on iTunes at midnight EST tonight WORLDWIDE!
Tweeted at Midnight: #ANTI deluxe album out now on @iTunes! Get 3 new songs!
Facebook at 1am: #‎ANTI deluxe album out now! Get 3 new songs!
Instagram at Midnight: #ANTI deluxe album out now on@iTunes! Get 3 new songs!

On Day 1, ANTI went PLATINUM (one million copies sold) and #1 on iTunes.


In summary, their release plan looked like this:

October: Album title and cover reveal, no dates yet
November: Album video teaser concept (“Rooms”) heavily sponsored by Samsung
November: World tour announcement
December: Continued video teasers
January: Continued video teasers
January 28: First single ‘Work’ released by surprise
January 28: Accidental surprise album streaming on Tidal, followed by free album downloads (on purpose)
January 29: Surprise official DELUXE album release on iTunes (3 extra songs)
February: Tour starts

As you’ll notice this is very different from your ‘typical’ album release! In the Justin Bieber Purpose Album Release Plan, we notice that Justin released a whopping 4 singles before he even released the album (which also wasn’t very ‘typical’).

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  1. Nice article. very handy! i would like to learn more. I am an Artist Manager in Africa. @Jamie, i would be glad to learn from what you share. Do you have a linkedin account?