On February 26, 2019, Solange Knowles shocked the world wide web when she revealed her new BlackPlanet page and teased new music from her forthcoming album.
Until then, BlackPlanet was a forgotten African-American social media networking site. A relic of a platform, popularized in the early 2000s was abandoned through the rise of MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.
For Solange to return to a throwback a site like BlackPlanet to promote her new music left fans confused, excited, and searching to find out if their old BlackPlanet pages were still active.
Solange isn’t the first artist to use a brand or website as a marketing tool. Over the years, plenty of artists have used unconventional methods to deliver their music and message out to the masses.
Take DJ Khaled for example. Before joining Snapchat in 2015, Khaled was a successful hip- hop DJ and record producer. After taking his life and talents to the video chat platform, Khaled’s career skyrocketed to an international superstar level. His daily “major keys” motivational videos led him to receive the “King of Snapchat” title, and ultimately, a partnership with Jay-Z.
Speaking of Jay-Z, in 2013, the rap heavyweight partnered with Samsung, in a reported $20 million deal to exclusively release Jay-Z’s twelfth studio album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, making the album a free digital download for Samsung customers. Sound confusing? Yes, it was a hot mess in 2013, as well.
Sometimes, teaming with brands and platforms isn’t as seamless as artists would like it to be. Kanye West used the music video app WAV Media to live stream his Ye album listening party, live from Wyoming. But Kanye’s 28 million fans became too much for the platform to handle as the broadcast never had the clearest or highest quality picture and sound. With all the confusion, most fans decided it was best to wait for the album’s official release.
Other artists like Drake, Chance The Rapper, and Frank Ocean have used streaming services like Apple Music to exclusively release their albums. Drake’s Views, Chance’s Coloring Book and Oceans’ Blonde were all released to huge streaming numbers and success.
Beyoncé turned to Tidal to release her 2016 album Lemonade. Tidal claims the album was streamed 300 million times in the album’s first 15 days of release, but you never know with these streaming companies. Back in May of 2018, Tidal was accused of juicing Beyonce’s streaming numbers.
Lemonade was critically acclaimed, Grammy-nominated and commercial success. To this day, Tidal is the only streaming service to host the album, and if you’re looking for a physical copy, CDs and
Solange wasn’t the first to use a website or brand to host content, and she won’t be the last. Considering we just exited the “blog era,” fans probably thought this type of marketing strategy was a thing of the past, but the internet is undefeated and unpredictable. You’ll never know what’s coming next.