Two of my favorite artists released songs to the internet last weekend. Fiona Apple posted a song from her upcoming album to Soundcloud, while Liz Phair sent an MP3 to the administrator of her biggest fan site and announced via Twitter that it’s “a stand-alone track, not what new record will sound like at all.”
Soundcloud: Fiona Apple – “Every Single Night”
Apple’s official “leak” was clearly part of an established technique for rousing excitement for a new album, which now includes weekly updates to keep us thinking about her.
• January 22: Record label exec unexpectedly tweets “Welcome back Fiona!”
• January 24: Label spokesperson clarifies new album will “absolutely be this year”
• February 14: South By Southwest showcase announced
• February 21: “Mini tour” dates announced
• March 7: Album title announced
• March 14: South By Southwest showcase features new songs
• March 19-27: mini tour
• April 2: Album track list, artwork, release date revealed
• April 9: North American tour dates announced
• April 23: “Every Single Night” posted to Soundcloud
It worked, of course. June 19 can’t come soon enough. But it’s hard not to feel like you’re being played with each step in the process generating new tweets, blog posts, and news items.
Contrast that precisely executed digital marketing roadmap with the seemingly haphazard Liz Phair release. The prevailing narratives tell us Fiona is the uncontrollable artiste, while Liz is the calculating careerist. But Phair used her personal Twitter account to give away a free song for no particular reason. She’s got nothing new to promote. Funstyle came out close to two years ago, and while she’s apparently finished a new video for “And He Slayed Her,” this new song has nothing to do with that.
It would be unfair to fail to point out that Apple is constricted by a major label contract while Phair is free to do whatever she wants with hew new songs. But it’s cool to see an artist taking advantage of that freedom.