Year Zero – Nine Inch Nails
For their sixth album, Nine Inch Nails took scavenger hunts to a whole new level. Instead of merely placing clues that would unveil the album, the band went one step further and created a virtual reality. First, the phrase "I am trying to believe", which featured on NIN’s tour merchandize, was registered as a website. Soon, a number of similar websites popped up, all promoting the virtual game "Year Zero". The game consisted of a variety of phone numbers, email addresses and websites that helped unlock the premise of the album.
In addition to the Year Zero game, each of Nine Inch Nails’ shows leading up to the release had a special surprise. The band left USBs containing the track Me I’m Not at venues, so fans could find them and enjoy the music!
20Ten – Prince
Prince’s troubles with his record labels are common knowledge. From becoming The Artist Formerly Known as Prince to his clash with the Warner Bros., it sure has been a turbulent ride!
Though most artists choose to release their albums online these days, Prince’s scorn for the internet is a subject for another time. When he decided to release his album 20Ten, the musician showed us exactly why he’s known for being innovative. The Artist teamed up with newspapers and magazines in Europe to have copies of his album circulated with the publications. Thought that couldn’t get better? It did. The 2.5 million copies were delivered for free!
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, Songs of Innocence – U2
U2 has recently made waves for teaming up with Apple, this isn’t the first time they’ve done it. Back in 2004, Apple collaborated with the band for popularizing the iPod. Apple released limited edition iPods featuring U2’s entire discography, unreleased music and laser-engraved autographs.
Ten years later, the two once again surprised audiences by releasing Songs of Innocence on iTunes. However, there was a bit of a twist! This time, iTunes users found that the album automatically appeared in their music library. What they didn’t anticipate was the fact that not everyone appreciated the free album. Oh well, at least they tried!
Beyoncé – Beyoncé
Everyone knows that Pop stars have a short shelf life. However, Beyonce changed the game when she released her self-titled album as a surprise in 2013. The video album, which hadn’t been announced (or even hinted at, for that matter) dropped in December, becoming the biggest release of the year. Needless to say, the lack of promotion became the best promotion the album could’ve gotten!
Song Reader – Beck
Listening to good music is truly a privilege and sometimes you have to work for it. Beck definitely knew and took advantage of that.