The latest full-length release from Okey Dokey, Tell All Your Friend, is either a brilliant marketing strategy or a north star heralding the end of the full album era. Maybe a bit of both. Back in late 2017, they band released “Hometown”, the first single from Tell All Your Friend and proceeded to spend the entirety of 2018 & half of 2019 slowly trickling out every single song from the new album as a standalone track. Each track has its own unique artwork, unified across one another with Aaron Martin’s fantastic illustrations. The full album was released in late July 2019 and serves as more of a compilation for those that have been paying attention than it does a grand event for the band. In fact, they hardly mentioned it on their social media.
There are two additional factors to this release tactic that should be noted. First, the band started releasing singles for the next album, Curio Cabinet I, before Tell All Your Friend (the album) ever even hit streaming services. Secondly, they didn’t take down any of the prior singles so a listener curious about Okey Dokey will see a massive amount of releases as opposed to just one or two. This results in a constant flow of new music from the band, which results in fan appeasement and fodder for their social media. From the outside, there’s no downtime for Okey Dokey, new music is always on the way and anyone new to them will find tons to listen to.
Is this tactic for everyone? Maybe not but it’s worth taking note of. It’s not an entirely new idea given that most music was singles based until the advent of longer playing formats but they’re leveraging it in a way that is massively effectively for our current digital world requirement of putting out Something New Everyday.
That’s a lot of waxing on about the band’s release strategy but not a lot of words about the album itself. In short, it’s fantastic. It’s entirely likely that this release technique required the band to shape their album in a way that every song really could enjoyed as a standalone piece. There’s no album filler, no downtime in the back half and no songs lacking in hooks. It’s unfair to give that credit to anything other than Okey Dokey themselves, a duo that has honed their breezy, head-in-the-clouds, pop to damn near perfection.
It’s an understatement but Spotify, Apple Music and all the other streaming services of their ilk have changed the landscape for musicians in a fundamental way. Garnering fans requires patience and connections with Playlisters to elevate your single track out of the masses. Releasing a record as a long series of singles certainly detracts from the celebration of a New Album being born into the world but Okey Dokey’s done it in a noteworthy way. Will this be the new normal or simply a singular tactic one could choose to take? It’s the Wild West out there and it certainly seems like the experiment is working.