The Wonder Years released their new album, “The Greatest Generation,” today. This marks the fourth full-length album released by the Pennsylvania-based band. The Wonder years formed in 2005 and have since put out 4 full-length albums, countless EPs and split compilations, toured worldwide, and are steadily on the rise and gaining mainstream recognition.
Yesterday, the day before the album’s release, the album was already sitting at #19 on the iTunes UK Alternative chart. So how’d a suburban pop punk band attain that level of success? Well, with eight years of experience under their belts, it’s safe to assume that The Wonder Years know a thing or two about promoting an album by now. They did it bigger than ever before for “The Greatest Generation,” so let’s take a look at how this realist pop-punk band went above and beyond to promote their latest album.
The hype for “The Greatest Generation” all started with a trailer. With Youtube making it easier than ever for bands to promote their music, it’s only natural that album trailers would become commonplace commercials for new music.
Released two months before the release of the album, the trailer gives fans an insight into the theme of the album, a look at all of the hard work the band put into it, and includes a snippet of new music to expect. This trailer was a great way to get fans stoked for new music and begging for more. Check it out for yourself!
Exclusive press releases of songs
In the weeks leading up to the album’s release The Wonder Years gave a few music news sites exclusive access to stream a new song from the album. Each site got a different song from “The Greatest Generation.” First AbsolutePunk.net hosted the first single released from the new album, “Passing Through a Screen Door,” along with an exclusive interview with The Wonder Years’ vocalist Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell. All of the traffic from fans visiting AbsolutePunk crashed their site within hours. Next up was “Dismantling Summer” published exclusively by Alternative Press. Lastly, Kerrang! published “The Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves.” These exclusive partnerships were mutually beneficial for both The Wonder Years and the media sites who got to publish their songs before anyone else. And for fans, hearing the songs one by one built anticipation for the album’s release.
Once the individual songs were released exclusively on music sites, some of the songs were made into lyric videos. Lyric videos have become a pretty popular way for musicians to advertise new singles. Fans were already going to leak your new music and make low-quality lyric videos of their own anyway, so why not take control of your brand identity and put out your own high quality video? The first lyric video released was for “Passing Through a Screen Door” and the second was for “Dismantling Summer.” You can check out the video for “Passing Through a Screen Door” below!
Advanced album streaming
Shortly after the last exclusive song was published on Kerrang! Hopeless Records (the label The Wonder Years are signed to) put the whole album on Youtube as a playlist for fans to stream. This allowed fans to stream the whole album days before the release date. Immediately after the stream launched, The Wonder Years released a statement explaining their hopes that if they gave fans access to the music for free before the release date, hopefully rather than illegally downloading the album fans would shell out the $10 to get the album in stores or on iTunes.
4 shows in 24 hours
All of those early releases of singles and the streaming of the album led up to what I think is the coolest part of The Wonder Years’ album promotion. The weekend before the album release (May 10 – 11)The Wonder Years played 4 shows in 4 different cities in 24 hours. Everyone who bought a ticket to one of the shows had the option to pre-order a copy of the album so they could have their copy in-hand before anyone else. Exclusive posters and merchandise would also be for sale at the shows. Some of the shows were at odd times like 12:45 a.m. and 10 a.m., but they were all sold out – just goes to show how going above and beyond for your fans will encourage them to go above and beyond for you.
I had the pleasure of attending the show at 10 a.m. on Saturday in Chicago, and it was AWESOME. Despite how exhausted the band must have been, they didn’t miss a beat when performing. They gave it their all, the fans gave it their all, and the show was an extremely intimate, unique experience that made everyone feel like they were a part of something great.
Soupy described the tour in an article with MTV Buzzworthy: “I know it’s not Jay-Z doing seven shows in a day, but for a punk band flying commercial and breaking our bodies to do it, I think it’s pretty f***ing cool. The shows are going to be in small sweaty rooms. The opening bands are all awesome. The ticket price was cheap, and we’re planning to tear the roof off of every one of them and then maybe go into a minor coma afterwards.”
Release week in-store events
Even though the band had just finished playing 4 shows in 24 hours, they didn’t have much time to rest because they kicked off in-store events for release week on the 12th. The Wonder Years started out on the west coast in California for acoustic performances and signings, and will be traveling all the way to the east coast in New York by the end of the week, with several other stops in between. These exclusive appearances give dedicated fans a chance to see the band perform and get autographs while they pick up their copies of the album.
Another unique event that The Wonder Years pulled together for the album release week is a pop-up shop partnered with Glamour Kills clothing. The shop will be open in Philadelphia from May 14-17 from 2 – 6 p.m. This is equal parts a fitting partnership and a fitting location. The Wonder Years have partnered with Glamour Kills for merchandise in the past and the band is from Pennsylvania, so some of their most loyal fans will get access to exclusive collaborative merchandise that will only be sold in the pop-up shop. In addition to store hours there will also be events like acoustic performances, signings, and movies.
So what can your band or brand learn from all of this? Lots! Here are the takeaways.
Get fans excited: by releasing teasers, exclusive content, and special events The Wonder Years were able to get their fans to rally around the release of their new album.
Partner with the press wisely: by releasing exclusive content on music news sites and blogs that their fans and fans of similar music frequent, The Wonder Years catered to their fans and were able to draw the attention of new fans as well.
Think outside of the box: The Wonder Years didn’t only rely on traditional avenues of promotion like press releases and Youtube videos. They did things that other pop punk bands have never done before, like performing 4 shows in 24 hours and putting up a unique pop-up shop.
Go above and beyond for your fans: Besides the countless hours the band put into making the album perfect, they went out of their way to make sure that fans got their hands on the album, had access to exclusive appearances and merchandise, and had a unique experience with the album and the band.
Which tip is most useful for you? Are there any other things we can learn from The Wonder Years’ album promotion? Most importantly, have you heard the album yet? What do you think?! Sound off in the comments below!
Jenna has a much easier time writing about the media and pop culture than she does writing about herself. She enjoys the simple things in life, like puns and typography. She is an avid fan of pop-punk, Halo 3, Spider-Man and origami, with a slight Taco Bell obsession. Her spirit animal is either a bulldog or a panda bear. You can also connect with Jenna on Google+ and Twitter.