PRO TIP: Fake album announcements are risky business

Last weekend was a wild one. Between the leaked Trump tapes and the second presidential debate it was hard for anything unrelated to politics to grab headlines, even in smaller markets. The one exception to this may have been Nicki Minaj, who surprised fans around the globe with the announcement she would be releasing her long-awaited third studio album at Midnight on Saturday, October 8. The rap star turned pop phenom told her Twitter followers the record would be titled Pick My Fruit and that every song was named after a fruit she loved. The tweets still exist, so here they are as evidence:

Considering the fact Minaj last released an album in 2014, fans were understandably excited to learn their favorite rapper would soon be gracing them with new music. Word of Nicki’s plans for the record spread like wildfire, with blogs and publications of all sizes posting the news before the above track list was even posted online. Everyone thought the next day would be filled with hot takes regarding the new record, but as midnight came and went in various places around the planet people slowly realized they were being played:

Minaj never made an official statement regarding her late night social media prank, but much has been written in the days since the incident questioning whether or not the troll was the best idea as it relates to business. 2016 has seen a surge in ‘surprise’ releases announced at the very last minute, and considering that Minaj has only released one song since her last album (the “Pinkprint Freestyle” dropped on September 4) the idea she might release an album out of the blue made a lot of sense. 

Everyone enjoys a good joke, but lying to your incredibly patient fans about the existence of a new record in an age where everyone is champing at the bit for new content pretty much 24/7 is an incredibly risky move. While it would appear that many of Minaj’s fans found some humor in the troll there was also quite a bit of disappointment as well. Everyone has the ability to be patient, especially when it comes to waiting on a new creation from an artist they believe in, but everyone also has their limits. 

If I had to guess I would say Minaj will more than likely release something, be it an album or just another single, in the coming weeks. Her fans may be trying to laugh off the Fruit incident in hopes something substantial is coming soon, but if nothing surfaces I am certain some will begin to look for other artists to support. Minaj may not be your favorite artist, but her words have impacted the lives of millions, and there are many looking to her for support or entertainment with bated breathe. Their excitement should be cherished, supported, and leveraged to urge others to feel the same, but in instances like this it is challenged. Instead of feeling like their adoration inspires their favorite artists they’re told it’s something to be used for amusement/humor. That’s not a good look for anyone, regardless of their popularity at Top 40 radio.

All this said, I am not expecting Nicki Minaj to fall out of the public eye anytime soon. Her career has propelled her far enough into the cultural conversation that one or two PR misfires are only going to have a minimal impact on her fanbase as a whole. The same cannot be said for other, smaller artist who may think teasing new material is a good idea. Those on the come up need to recognize that honesty and integrity go a long way towards securing lifelong fans, and pranks like the one being pulled with Pick My Fruit can potentially do far more harm than good. 

Don’t be like Nicki Minaj. Maintain an open dialogue with fans through honesty and they will follow you anywhere. Leverage their faith in you for your own amusement and they will find someone else to support.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.