Boards of Canada, Vampire Weekend  and the Illusive Album Treasure Hunt
    • TUESDAY, MAY 28, 2013

    • Posted by: Matt Howard

    This weekend, iconic Scottish electro duo Boards of Canada premiered their forthcoming, fourth studio album Tomorrow's Harvest, before a crowd of psyched-up zealots in the middle of the Mojave Desert. The event, which you can check out courtesy of USTREAM below, is one of multiple examples of the revolutionary marketing tactics that have been used to promote album releases in 2013. Artists like Boards of Canada, Daft Punk, and Vampire Weekend are definitely onto something with their newfound uses of new and old media as ongoing pseudo red carpet events, and they have proven that a simple press release will no longer cut it.

    Video streaming by Ustream

    Over the weekend, Boards of Canada informed their Twitter followers of an album listening party via a YouTube video of the Mojave's Lake Dolores Waterpark, and to nobody's surprise, a slew of faithful fans showed up to be the first to consume the new tunes. What's even more interesting: Boards of Canada's Twitter has been essentially dormant for two years, and has only tweeted 8 times (not even up to par with Ferris Bueller's absent count). So the duo utilized an untouched social source to unveil the cryptic message of their location, essentially transforming the album release into a treasure hunt for their 18,000+ followers.

    This treasure hunt tactic was similarly used by Vampire Weekend late last year when they announced their recently released third album Modern Vampires of the City. Unlike Boards of Canada, however, Vampire Weekend's announcement first appeared in the classified section of the New York Times, where it was assumedly discovered by a media scouring Pitchfork intern assigned to the VW beat.

    These two groups embedded their marketing in mystery, and in our world of constant connection, fans were uncut and given an opportunity to investigate the happenings. These underground marketing tactics are re-stimulating the album release process where once we lined up with anxious anticipation outside our local record stores to purchase a tangible copy of our favorite band's latest, we had since been plagued with the simplicity of point-and-click purchasing directly to our pockets. These bands are making us more excited for new music by creating a blockade that we must overcome to reach the tunes, and when we finally break through, the prize is that much sweeter. Even if the album isn't to our liking, music fans are so ingrained in the release process, that they have developed subconscious attachment that will ensure social chatter and additional album purchases. This treasure hunt tactic was used quite literally last summer by Yeasayer with their album release scavenger hunt, one that I proudly helped win, but still never saw any reward thanks to a greedy partner.

    I must admit that I originally found the double irony of these anti-social sharing tactics to be pretentious, but I have finally come around to comprehend their allure. They're making music discovery stimulating and exciting, as it damn well should be.

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