I recently read about Ed Sheeran’s latest album release called Autumn Variations and the first thing that struck me is, “Why don’t more superstars do this?” What is unique and unusual about this release is that Sheeran has said that there would be no singles or videos to promote the album. Major record labels would be aghast at this strategy, but Sheeran is releasing it himself on his own label (Gingerbread Man Records) and is therefore free to market it however he desires.
Although it doesn’t seem to be his intention, this is actually a brilliant strategy in that it forces fans to buy the full album in whatever format they desire. It’s true that that this would be album suicide for an indie artist or even a star with a few hits. But a superstar has a faithful audience of superfans that are always eager for the latest material from their fav artist, which makes this strategy (or non-strategy in this case) work.
But He Says. . .
Sheeran states that he’s tired of the major label rat race and just wants a simpler music life. “. . .I’ve had 12, 13 years of the, being a pop star, and having the pressure of it has to sell this week one, you have to have this hit single, you have to have this. And part of me goes, ‘Why?’”, he said on CBS Mornings recently.
“Everything has to be the biggest and best every time, and then better the next time,” he stated. “I think that’s part of the independent thing, that takes away the pressure. There are no expectations because there’s no company. You have to live with it. You have to be like, ‘I don’t care what people think.’”
UGC To The Rescue
I personally believe him, but I bet this record does gangbusters in unexpected ways. For one thing, there will be plenty of YouTube and social media user generated content videos that will promote the record without Sheeran having to lift a finger.
If he tours, and there’s no reason to think that he won’t, there will be more exposure for his current music, and more opportunities for fans to purchase it in physical form.
Of course, if Autumn Variations doesn’t contain music that people want to hear, then none of this works. But Ed Sheeran’s had the golden guitar pick so far, and it’s a safe bet that at least a couple of tracks are juicy ear candy to the faithful. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.