Let’s face it. If you’ve been online this week, there’s a good chance you’ve stumbled upon a music video from Weird Al’s latest album, Mandatory Fun, on your way down the Internet rabbit hole. A great post on The Atlantic by Robinson Meyer entitled “The Surprisingly Savvy Weird Al Internet Machine” explores in detail the success of the parodist’s fourteenth studio album, which is largely due to the concept of disruptive innovation. That is something, frankly, we know a lot about here at Tribeca.
A lot has changed in the music industry since Weird Al released his first album back in 1983. Unlike many artists, Weird Al has always been able to adapt with changing times and new forms of media. Through his twitter handle, he made himself a constant Internet presence in a time when parodies of popular songs are being created by numerous amateurs via YouTube hours after new songs are released. By keeping his hand in the game, Al is now enjoying a surge of popularity. As Robinson Meyer points out, “this week has been Al-saturated, his new music videos and songs unavoidable.”
No doubt inspired by Beyonce’s surprise visual album, Weird Al also released one new music video every day for eight days straight. The genius part was that each release—including parodies of songs by Lorde, Robin Thicke and Pharrell—appeared on a different platform. Regular visitors to sites like Nerdist, Yahoo, FunnyOrDie and more were exposed to the latest stylings of Weird Al, which only strengthens his brand and allows him to create fans in these very different demographics.
Weird Al’s new media savvy strategy should serve as a model for artists and creators looking to distribute their work in a bloated market place. When asked about the future of his career on his most recent AMA, Weird Al responded with aplomb: “I'll probably just be releasing singles (possibly EPs) going forward - I really don't think the album format is the most efficient or intelligent way for me to distribute my music anymore.” We, along with the rest of the world, will be waiting for whatever comes next!
If you, like me, grew up loving the music of Weird Al, I suggest you check out this piece on The Awl about one megafan’s beautiful chance encounter with the music parody star.