by Greg Treat
For those old enough to remember a time when MTV played music videos 24 hours a day,
the name “Weird Al” Yankovic has been synonymous with comedy parodies of pop culture for over thirty years. Over the course of his career Yankovic has recorded more than 150 songs and has sold more than 12 million albums, but his latest album Mandatory Fun has scored a big achievement that has eluded “Weird Al” up to this point.
So what changed? Here’s a look at how “Weird Al” won with video strategy. Mandatory Fun, his fourteenth studio record, was released on July 15, 2014 and has since made it to #1 on Billboard U.S. charts – the first comedy album to do so since 1963’s My Son, the Nut by Allan Sherman. We find the backstory to this career milestone extremely fascinating and inspirational. Al’s label RCA Records was not going out of their way to promote his new album. Case in point: they refused to fund any music videos for the pending release. However he didn’t take this major promotional setback lying down – Yankovic took matters into his own hands.
Al partnered with a number of Internet portals such as Funny or Die, Yahoo! and CollegeHumor to produce videos to properly promote his new release.
The exact arrangement varies with each site, but we understand that they funded all the production costs associated with a given video in exchange for exclusive rights for the first two weeks of the video’s release and all the backend advertising revenue. While no artist wants to miss out on advertising revenue, good quality video production doesn’t come cheap (we can attest to that) and Yankovic knew the impact that good videos could have on the album’s overall success.
The true scope of “Weird Al’s” marketing brilliance was on full display when he made the move to release a new video each day in a social media-driven campaign known as #8videos8days. The video campaign has dominated the Internet in a way few could have predicted, and the Billboard end result came as a surprise to even Al himself:
Longtime fans of Yankovic (like myself) are less surprised by the narrative of this amazing success story, we’re just pleased that such a hard working and fun artist is getting a well deserved day in the sun. With the release of Mandatory Fun “Weird Al” is no longer under contract, so our advice to RCA Records is this: resign Yankovic ASAP, and put him in charge of all your marketing efforts, because clearly the man knows what he’s doing.