Olivia Rodrigo’s SOUR is the debut release by the Disney star. It was released on May 21, 2021 by Geffen Records (Universal Music Group), where billboard magazine places the album when album sales or totaled still remains to be seen, but weekend plays and buzz around the release should prove it to debut at #1. Not bad for an debut artist without featured musicians anywhere on the album.
As far as music marketing goes, this was a solid release that is going to pay off big.
Let’s dig in and see how Geffen and Olivia’s team did leading up to the release. A few things became very clear quickly:
- This was a standard label roll-out
- Triple single release strategy
- Limited (targeted) social media updates
- Average amount of video releases
In this release breakout I’m going to layout the promo calendar leading up to the full album release. Geffen didn’t make any marketing magic here as the strategy they used is decades old with minor tweaks for the digital age.
|Release date||May 21st, 2021|
|Timeline (first single – album release)||5 months (January 8th – May 21st)|
|Retail||LP: SOUR, Digital & Streaming, CD, cassette, Vinyl|
|Merch Items||SOUR – 29 total number of merch items|
-2 CD (alternative cover art)
-2 cassette (alternative cover art)
-1 digital albums
-1 box set
-5 T-shirts -2 tank tops
-1 glow crewneck
-2 sweatpants -2 shorts -1 sports bras
-1 type of socks
-1 tote bag
-1 beaded bracelet -1 water bottle
-1 candy hearts -1 journal/zine
Drivers License – 4 total number of merch items
Assorted mix – 9 total number of merch items
-1 bumper sticker
|Release week chart position||TBD|
|Management||Camp Far West – Kristen R. Smith|
|Publicist||Rhett Usry, Nathalie Rubin|
Sour is a standard pop album rollout
Rodrigo (and Geffen) took a standard pop rollout, contrary to what is common currently, dropping only three single in spite of the 5 month lead time to the album.
This allowed for a low risk release with a new artist, in contrast to a singles release strategy as seen by large established artists.
The three singles were staggered a little odd, almost like Geffen pushed the last release to try to capitalize on the success of the first two singles. This left the third single “Good 4 U” in a bad position as it was announced on May 10th, 2021 and released just four days later on May 14th, 2021 – just 7 days before the SOUR album was to drop…
In contrast “Drivers License” was released on January 8th, 2021 and “Déjà vu” was released April 2, 2021. That is 84 days between singles #1 and #2. That’s when Geffen realized they had something strong and needed to more on it quickly. The gap between “Déjà vu” and “Good 4 U” was much better timed at 42 days between them.
“Drivers License” released with 4 merch items, all being very bland t-shirts or Hoodies – very low risk. This allowed Geffen to pull back if the single didn’t hit… but it did hit, and it hit hard leaving Geffen to scramble to catch up. Lesson is be ready to maximize a single even if it means you have to pull back due to it not performing as ramping up takes a lot more time and effort after the fact.
Promotional Calendar shows the inconsistent activity on each single launch.
Audience Growth leading to album release, April 26th – May 24th
Standard release strategy: w/ supporting content
|Additional Video Content||Documentary: 1|
Visualizer & Lyrics: 11
Alternative music videos: 0
|TV appearances||February 4, 2021: The tonight show with Jimmy Fallon May 11, 2021: BRIT Awards.|
May 12, 2021: Vevo LIFT
May 15, 2021: Saturday Night Live May 20, 2021: YouTube Originals RELEASED
The content strategy on this release seems to have been adjusted to account for Drivers License charting at #1 on release. In the 5 months covering the first single to album release date, Rodrigo dropped 24 videos on her YouTube channel with 11 being Lyric Videos with the same theme and 5 being Live Performances videos.
YouTube View During Campaign (May 24, 2020 – May 24, 2021)
The Campaign started slow, with Drivers License YouTube video averaging 1 million view a day until… March 3 when it jumped by 200 Million views per day according to VidIQ and climbed steady from there… This leads to a common issue with tracking data, often you’ll find the software didn’t seem to track something – in this case looking through the data I can see VidIQ missed a bunch of data for Rodrigo’s YouTube… the just in videos dates back to her appearance on The Tonight Sow with Jimmy Fallon – VidIQ missed almost a month of data…
The singles had only one or two pieces of supporting content, a BTS or a Live performance – they didn’t even have Lyric videos and had to use a Fan Lyric Video for Drivers License. The official Lyric Videos would all be released on the same day – when the album was released.
You can learn a lot from reviewing releases from top artists. For SOUR that is:
- Recovering from an unexpected success can take time, make sure you’re ready when it happens.
- Quality is still owns the day, Rodrigo’s skills are what sustained interest for 84 days between “Drivers License” and “déjà vu”, marketing at Geffen need to buy Rodrigo a Dew for saving their ass.
Emotion is relatable, Rodrigo makes it clear how she feels in every song on SOUR. This most likely is the best album of 2021, and the best front to back in maybe a decade.
Special shout out to Amber Horsburgh who inspired this post based of her break down of Justin Bieber Justice album release.