Bryson Tiller dropped his much anticipated new album True to Self, surprisingly a month early. It’s the follow-up to the Louisville singer/songwriter’s critically acclaimed debut Trapsoul, which featured his smash hit “Don’t.
It was a very interesting move for Tiller to push up the release from its original June 23rd date, which makes me think that this was a planned marketing ploy. Nowadays, artists are adopting unique approaches to releasing their projects, focusing on shock to drive streams and purchases. From a marketing standpoint, “surprise and delight” tactics generate significant and positive responses, and more importantly, virality which amplifies the promotional efforts. From Beyoncé, Frank Ocean, and Kendrick Lamar, all of music’s biggest names are adopting a surprise drop strategy, which has shown that it works. Why invest in expensive marketing rollouts when you can surprise your fans and have them do the marketing for you?
Bryson Tiller is a popular artist, but he’s not a superstar, so the surprise approach may not be as effective. By setting an expected date of June 23rd to create anticipation, and then releasing True to Self way ahead of schedule, Tiller could generate that fire to make the album a success. But, he does have the backing of one of the most influential brands in the world: Apple.
Tiller has a really strong relationship with Apple Music, which started when his single “Don’t” was bubbling online. The programming execs saw potential in young Tiller and took him under their wing, pushing hard to get this music played on the platform and building a connection with the artist. Apple Music featured him in the “New Artist Spotlight”, chose “Don’t” as a “World Record” on Zane Lowe’s Beats1 show, and streamed his mixtape before its release. Apple gains if Tiller blows up and he releases his content exclusively on its services before competitors.
Record labels are dead, so artists have to rely on distribution platforms (like Apple, Spotify, and Pandora) to push their music. Good for young Tiller, he’s established a strong relationship with one of the premiere ones. In conjunction with the True to Self’s release, the singer/songwriter will be taking on the role as Apple Music’s first guest curator from June 2 to 9, where he’ll be filling in as the music platform’s resident hip-hop and R&B tastemaker. Tiller will play his favorite projects and songs and curate five playlists, as well as assist in the launch of DNA, a new series where celebrities and influencers will curate playlists based on their personal taste.
Stream Bryson Tiller’s True to Self below (-ronically, I don’t have an Apple Music account)