Odd Future fans who had July 17 marked on their calendars got a pleasant surprise late last night.
Not only did sudden headline-maker Frank Ocean make his television debut on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, but there was also a surprise announcement: the hotly anticipated Channel Orange would be streaming online for the next 24 hours on Ocean’s Tumblr, as well as for sale on iTunes. The album, which fans thought wouldn’t be available until next Tuesday, became the No. 1 album on iTunes within the hour.
And according to Def Jam, that was all part of Channel Orange‘s unusual marketing strategy.
It all began in June, when Ocean mysteriously announced via teaser trailer that the album would be coming out by July. That left a relatively short period of time for promotion, but Team Ocean made the most of it. Just within the past week, the buzz spiked when Ocean opened up about his sexuality mere days before his cover profile in last Sunday’s New York Times Arts & Leisure section.
When asked Sunday night whether Ocean’s semi-coming out affected the album’s marketing plan, Def Jam president Joie Manda told EW in an e-mail, ”Absolutely not. You have to understand that Frank’s letter last week was in NO WAY intended to impact the marketing of this record. Like all things with Frank, it was a carefully measured, very personal decision.”
Manda said then that the label’s “plans remain the same: to support Frank Ocean’s creativity and artistry and allow him the freedom to continue building the very special relationship he’s cultivated with his fans.”
Which would mean that last night’s “surprise” early release wasn’t really a surprise at all. A Def Jam rep confirmed this to EW this morning, telling us that the early release, NYT story, and Fallon announcement were always a part of their plan.
“Frank’s appearance on the show was on the books for almost two months, well before his letter last week,” Late Night booker Jonathan Cohen confirms to us in an e-mail. “The announcement of the early digital release was part of the plan from the very beginning.”
Check out the video below to see Ocean perform “Bad Religion” on Fallon, and head over here to the singer’s site to hear Channel Orange in full. [We'll have a review of the album up here for you soon, and an expanded story in our next issue this Friday.]