Over-The-Top Music Marketing from Kanye West


Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR

After a number of different listening events spanning over several weeks and a significant delay, Kanye West finally released his latest studio album. The album was originally scheduled to be released in July, after three separate and elaborate listening events, but was postponed because it was allegedly unfinished. To complete the album, West decided to stay at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta before finally hosting the last listening event in Chicago with Marilyn Manson, DaBaby, and  Kim Kardashian West as participants. 

The album was originally promised to be released last year, but Kanye West faced multiple delays. He also filed papers to change his name to Ye while working on the album. During the last listening event before the album was released, Kanye West pulled a number of different publicity stunts in order to get even more attention around his latest work. 

The listening event was attended by Marilyn Manson, who is currently facing multiple allegations of sexual abuse. Earlier this year he was dropped by his record label after the actress Evan Rachel Wood publicly stated that she was abused by the musician. On the other hand, the other event participant, DaBaby, has been recently condemned over a number of homophobic remarks during a festival. 

The final participant of the listening event was West’s own ex-wife, Kim Kardashian West, who was seen wearing a wedding dress and accompanied by their four children. The listening event ended with Kanye West walking out of a burning replica of his childhood home, and joining up with his ex-wife. 

As marketer Rick De La Croix noted, “Once the album was released, it received mixed reviews, but it had plenty of music reviewer’s wondering whether West should have placed all 27 tracks on the album in the first place. Nevertheless, the entire marketing campaign and the publicity stunts that followed the release of the album made for plenty of media coverage around Kanye West’s fan base.” 

Additionally, when the album was made public across all streaming platforms, West released a statement saying that the album was released by his label, Universal Music Group, without his approval. He also claimed that the label ended up blocking one of the songs that featured the two controversial listening event participants, Marilyn Manson and DaBaby. However, Universal Music Group released a statement soon after, stating that the album had been approved by Kanye West and his team for release. 

These statements generated even more publicity around the album, helping him  chart higher and making fans talk  about it across social media platforms even more.