As streaming services continue to grow as the primary way to listen to new music, Alex Pall and Drew Taggart of The Chainsmokers are leading the pack.
The Chainsmokers carved their name so deep into the guts of 2017 that their sharp hit records like “Something Just Like This” and “Paris” chiseled and sculpted mainstream radio playlists into their own image. Their very first album Memories…Do Not Open went Platinum in the United States and many others countries. They were the third highest paid DJs as stated by Forbes magazine after amassing $38 million between June 2016 to June 2017. Alex Pall and Drew Taggart also made time to attack the stage and conquer crowds throughout prominent cities in North America and Europe with their Memories…Do Not Open Tour. Then there was the announcement on March 6, 2017, by Billboard magazine that the milestone manifesting group manufactured another massive memory in the collective brain of the music industry by becoming the only duo or group besides the Beatles and the Bee Gees to own three concurrent top 10 hit songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart— “Closer,” “Paris,” and “Something Just Like This.” Now in 2018, with the bar of success set to the moon, what exactly is left for The Chainsmokers to accomplish that they haven’t already achieved? The answer is simple—reinvent the way musical albums are released with a modern approach for contemporary stream fiends.
The conventional music album is an invention of the early 1900s that has gone from books of individual vinyl 78rpm records, that later spun at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute with a collection of songs per single record by 1948. After that, listeners rushed into physical brick and mortar record stores for not just records, but 8-track tapes, cassettes, compact discs, then eventually to the cyber stores of the 21 century for digital MP3 files. But with the online onslaught of free music on the internet, artists had to make their output more of an event to keep supporters interested and invested in paying for projects, whether with their money or with their time. Beyoncé shocked us with Beyoncé, her unannounced surprise album. Kanye West re-conceptualized the long form music format with his editing after releasing The Life of Pablo work-in-progress album. Then Drake distinguished himself with More Life, which was not an album, not a mixtape, but a playlist…like the curated collections we go to Spotify for. Now here come The Chainsmokers and their ironclad clique over at Disruptor Records charging forward with their branding brilliance, into the transformative music space with their yet-untitled “waterfall” album strategy.
Pop trio TLC may have once sung “Don’t go chasing waterfalls,” but when it comes to music releases, The Chainsmokers are definitely not going to “stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to” by flooding the market with a highly concentrated steady stream of streaming. The waterfall that The Chainsmokers are constructing has nothing to do with creating a tourist attraction to compete with Niagara Falls. The waterfall approach, in which a new single from The Chainsmokers album will be released every month on streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, followed by an EP containing each previous single, was described to Billboard magazine by Vice President of Sales at Columbia Records like so:
“We wrote out a road map……We wanted to create what we’re calling a ‘waterfall.’ As we go with the second and third tracks, the waterfall keeps getting larger and larger.”
The core architect of this technique is Adam Alpert, the CEO of The Chainsmokers’ label Disruptor Records who has partnered with Columbia Records. Alpert referred to this new release strategy as “building the album.” Alpert told Billboard Magazine:
“Everybody knows music is consumed song-by-song now due to streaming. We’ve also realized that people want instant gratification. So we decided to deliver a song every four weeks to our core fan base. The strategy works very well for streaming services, because they are getting regular content, and playlist editors can help you narrate that story month to month and they know how this artist is performing, where they’d best be placed and how to market them through their other channels.”
This way of building an album song by song and month by month began in 2018 with the release of “Sick Boy” on January 17, “You Own Me” on February 16, “Everybody Hates Me” on March 16, and “Somebody” on April 20. The Chainsmokers have set the stage to most likely release additional singles also in May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December of 2018, each single including a re-release of the prior track. With all 12 arriving in December, this series of songs is meant to be a 2018 collection. What sets this layer by layer album build apart from other releases is that it gives each song a full month of focus while kicking out reminders of those previous jams to pop them back up onto playlists and music charts.
In addition to the new way of releasing the album, they have been releasing a steady series of EPs, each loaded with a half a dozen remixes that focus on the track of that month to help inject each that song deeper into the audiences of the multitude of producers and DJs that put their personal spins on them. Less is more has definitely been the mantra of The Chainsmokers’ music releases for quite some time now. Their first pair of EPs, Bouquet in 2015 and Collage in 2016, with each only having five songs and being released approximately a year apart. This level of laser precision has allowed the cream of The Chainsmokers’ crop to rise to the top, instead of littering the internet with every song idea that runs through their creative minds. At a time when most music artists seem to believe that the answer to success is building their catalogues as fast as possible with daily dumps of tracks and a pray for the best desire for good luck, The Chainsmokers show pure confidence in dropping one track month, insuring that each viral sensation has its own time in the sun to shine.