The Anticipation of “Xscape,” Part 1

11 Apr

The new Michael Jackson album, “Xscape,” is set to be released on May 13, 2014. Pre-sales began on April 1, 2014, and it quickly shot to the top of the worldwide Itunes album charts. The marketing campaign is in full swing and the excitement in the fan community is building.

This 16 second video with a snippet of the song, “Xscape,” played on various news outlets and currently has over one million hits.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7_iLMq8REo

A series of visual posters and billboards mysteriously started to appear in different geographic areas.

Adventure

billboard column deluxe teaser Sidewalk WALL POST

The album cover art was released to much debate among fans, many speculating about what the cover means. The verdict on the cover art was split between those who loved it and those who hated it. The album cover artist, Mat Maitland, was interviewed by MJ World Network to get his perspective on the creation of the cover. Mat is a long time fan of Michael Jackson and intended the greatest respect for him in creating this cover.

MJ World Network: “Where did you draw inspiration from for the ‘Xscape’ artwork?”

“I wanted to evoke a contemporary and quintessential incarnation of Michael as an artist who constantly injected new blood into his music and also to focus on both the intriguing and futuristic aspects of MJ. As well as being a tribute, I hope that it will inspire reflection on a man who continues to stimulate and offer unique creative musical possibilities to so many today. I also tried to say that Michael is all around us, in our universe and beyond, on earth and in outer space.”

http://www.mjworld.net/news/2014/04/02/exclusive-interview-with-xscape-artwork-designer/

Sony unveiled its new Xperia Z2 phone with a commercial using Michael Jackson’s song “Slave To The Rhythm” which will be one of the tracks of the album. Those who purchase the new phone will have a copy of the album, “Xscape,” preloaded on the phone when they receive it. JayZ’s recent album, “Holy Grail” was available to Samsung Galaxie phone owners in much the same way.

Xperia 2 phone commercial featuring “Slave To The Rhythm.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZ9HkICDuOI

The time frame for marketing and promotion of the album is just six weeks which is considered extremely short by historical album launch standards. Zack O’Malley Greenburg of Forbes addresses the marketing aspect of the launch in his article, “What Michael Jackson, Beyonce and Jay Z Have in Common.”

http://www.forbes.com/sites/zackomalleygreenburg/2014/04/01/what-michael-jackson-beyonce-and-jay-z-have-in-common/

“With the release strategy for Xscape–radio silence up until an announcement just six weeks before launch–Jackson also finds himself on the cutting edge of album rollout planning. The approach isn’t entirely different from the likes of Beyoncé and Jay Z.

True, those two superstars left even less time between the announcements and launches of their albums. For Jay Z, it was about three weeks; for Beyoncé, the events occurred simultaneously. But even Jackson’s six-week window is a short one compared to other recent releases by big acts like 50 Cent and Coldplay, both of whom announced their albums more than two months in advance.”

“Will other artists follow the lead of Beyoncé, Jay Z and, now, Jackson? A few have, most recently Kid Cudi and Skrillex, with mixed results. As one major label president recently said: “This kind of event is the territory for maybe 10 artists in the world.”

Even from beyond the grave, Jackson is clearly part of that group.”

MJ Truth Now asked one of our young friends who is a graphic artist for a design firm to give us her her thoughts on the marketing campaign from a design perspective. The designer is a fan of Michael Jackson and his music but is not as immersed in “all things Michael” as our team (stated with amusement at ourselves) so we wanted to get a more neutral view of the strategy. Here is what she had to say:

“I like the edgy escapism concept they have going. The typography of the all-caps block lettering reminds me a lot of street art, which I think is their way of nodding to some famous graffiti artists like Banksy and sort of bringing in everything that they represent. (Banksy is well-known for his controversial art and gorilla style execution.. It gives the campaign an underground, hip, exclusive (have to be in-the-know) vibe.

I like the album cover a lot. It’s a great photo and I love the galaxy imagery, along with the high silver collar. It reminds me both of a portal and actually of something like a gramophone. Works well with the title “Xscape” which to me seems to be both “Escape” and “X-scape” (like a new frontier or dimension or something).

It’s really well-executed. Seeing the video and hearing the music that goes with it helps bring everything together. The full-commercial is beautiful, and really engaging. All the movement and creativity of it really seems to be an homage to MJ.”

“Xscape” strategy continued in Part 2.

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One Response to “The Anticipation of “Xscape,” Part 1”

  1. mjrocksmyworld8291958 April 23, 2014 at 8:50 am #

    Just love the 16 second video snippet! The anticipation for the release of this album continues to build within me each time I see it! I would also like to say that I am a fan of the album covers artwork and I agree with Mat that Michael is all around us and continues to stimulate and offer unique creative musical possibilities to so many today.

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