Polished packaging vs. punk packaging

Last night, Donald Glover announced Atavista, the finished version of an album he had previously released. He released the original version, entitled 3.15.20, with no announcement at the beginning of the pandemic. On the original version, songs had timestamps for titles (e.g., a song might be entitled, “24.19”), making it more difficult for people to share and discuss. 

His wife, Michelle White, once told him, “You do punk things, you get punk results,” and 3.15.20 felt like a punk thing. Tyler, the Creator also pointed this out, noting the punk decisions meant that people really missed out on interesting music.

Atavista feels more well-packaged. The songs were given proper names, and there is an updated title track. There are a handful of new songs and a new music video. It’s not a huge new launch—a relatively quiet one still—but promoting something that has already been out for four years has its nuances.

This second launch is having a moment on the internet; it’s a double ship, a good reminder to keep promoting your work—particularly as you improve it. Donald and his team are no strangers to cool rollouts though; he is using this Atavista launch as an appetizer to an album he will be releasing this summer.

I’ll close with an interview from Tyler, the Creator that I really like; he’s observing that younger emerging artists are reluctant to promote their work. They post it once on social media, and then it’s gone, and they’re sad people forgot about it. That’s not the right approach; even with the audience and reputation he had, he says, “I’m still promoting my album that came out in June. It’s a year out and I’m still out here.”

If you’re on the fence about promoting, do it. Make something better, package it more tightly and with more polish, and then tell people about it.

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