Is Kanye West’s Brand Untouchable?
Kanye West has always been full of surprises, and if this past month is any indication, he’ll stop at nothing to keep fans and critics guessing what his next move will be. Claiming Bill Cosby’s innocence, taking credit for Taylor Swift’s rise to fame and publicly asking for a billion dollars from Mark Zuckerberg—Kanye is in full Kanye mode. For many artists this would be grounds for a public relations specialist to swoop in and save the day…but people are seriously eating it up.
The February 14th roll out of West’s new album, The Life of Pablo, garnered a bevy of attention due to the delusional and jarring nature of the artist’s “creative process”. The project went through several title changes over the course of a year, and even though West allowed for glimpses at its development through Twitter, fans were still clamoring for the content to be given to the public.
In my humble opinion, Kanye West’s brand is nearly impenetrable. He has cemented his marketability through confusion and chaos, with breathing room for all of his mistakes and mishaps. West’s behavior during a heinous tirade towards the paparazzi or a meltdown backstage at SNL is broken down with simplicity: “That’s just Kanye being Kanye.”
The move to disregard any form of class or humility is genius when considering Kanye’s manic personality. After West established himself as one of the premier music artists in the entire world, he realized much of what he does is forgiven if the great music keeps coming. The George Bush incident and the Taylor Swift VMA debacle are two scandals that didn’t stop him from having chart-topping albums and touring the world in their aftermath.
Even after his latest run-in with personal turmoil, West’s numbers and influence speak for themselves. TIDAL, Jay-Z’s streaming service that promotes the payment of artists, hasn’t had a chance to get its feet off the ground due to rival Spotify and its stranglehold on the market. According to report by Rap-Up from a recent TMZ article (take that with a grain of salt), Kanye’s The Life of Pablo was “streamed more than 100 million times” in the past two weeks since its exclusive release on TIDAL. West’s album doubled the subscriber base of the service from 1 million to 2.5 million, which according to the report, “could total up to at least $15 million in additional revenue.”
The pull that Kanye West has created and maintained is impressive, and it seems as though the only obstacle holding him back is himself. Had West followed the traditional method of selling music, he would be at the top of the Billboard 100 right now. An exclusive release to ITunes or a general release with physical sales is what every major recording artist does to help their growth. But Kanye West is not every major recording artist, he is not one to abide by the system—a planned chaos that makes his brand a force to be reckoned with.
James Orlay is a Public Relations Associate at Flackable, a national public relations agency supporting the communications needs of registered investment advisors (RIAs) and other forward-thinking financial services firms. To learn more about Flackable, please visit www.flackable.com. Follow James on LinkedIn.