Try Before You Buy

Today Daft Punk finally “dropped” their first album in almost 8 years. Random Access Memories is now, at last, available for download, purchase and stream.

For many, this won’t be the first they’re hearing of the 13 track album. But that doesn’t mean they’re not rushing to press play the second they have the opportunity to do so. It may not be the same as rushing home, vinyl in hand, from the record shop to run up the stairs to your bedroom, rip the disc out of its sleeve and plastic coating, plug the oversized headphones in, hurriedly place the needle on the track and soak in that stereo…but I was still pretty darn excited to boot up Spotify and double-click “1. Give Life Back to Music.”

My reaction isn’t an abnormal one. In fact, it’s an engineered response to one of the more brilliant marketing plans in music I’ve ever seen. I’m totally aware of the scheme, and yet I don’t care. It’s that good.

The groundswell that these two helmeted Frenchmen (along with their label’s marketing team and whoever else contributed to the release) built between January and today was monumental, and fired on all cylinders of the marketing mix. From the announcement (which was buzzed about in all the right communities…Reddit’s /r/musc nearly had a collective mental breakdown from the news); through to the early releases of “trailers,” which fans quickly remixed into full-length songs to be enjoyed over and over; on through to the snippets played on SNL and around music festivals in early spring; the release of “Get Lucky,” and the “leak” of the full album last week (which turned into a day’s worth of “legal” streaming on iTunes and Spotify Europe), the build-up was insane.

But hype-building aside, the majority of the attention this campaign got was due to the quality of the music. And that quality was discovered because it was made available to the public, before they had an opportunity to buy. The product had to speak for itself. And while it was placed in a frame of mouth-watering excitement and anticipation, the art had to stand on its own, and the consumer made the decision.

I see this happening more and more, giving consumers a “try-before-you-buy” option, and focusing on superior product to make the sale (rather than gimmicky marketing). Oftentimes, the try before you buy program is the marketing in itself (see Warby Parker’s Home Try-On program). But whether you’re selling eyeglasses or making music, the landscape is definitely shifting in favor of demand. The power is in the consumer’s hands. And I think that’s great.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some more music to listen to.