English: Joss Whedon at the 2010 Comic Con in ...

Joss Whedon at the 2010 Comic Con | Image Credit: Wikipedia

Crank it up, crank it out; so say the White new music and Whedon new movie schools of release scheduling.

No sooner had Jack White broken the Guinness World Record for cutting and releasing a new record – under four hours start to finish, fact fans – for Record Store Day on Saturday, than his creative peer Joss Whedon threw a curve ball at the traditional movie marketing strategy.

Announcing his new film ‘In Your Eyes’ (trailer below) to coincide with its premiere ar the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, Whedon was excited to explain his experiment with direct-to-fan rush releases. Described as a way to “explore yet another new form of distribution,” the tactic is quite the opposite of the lengthy traditional marketing campaigns favored by movie studios.

Whedon is making good on a goal that he’s discussed for several years, yet never been able to take that first step. With high-profile titles like the ‘Avengers’ movies on his plate, it’s easy to see why. But this latest, lower profile work affords him the opportunity to experiment as Hollywood looks on with interest.

Jack White’s effort was the very definition of rush release: announced, recorded and available to buy from his Nashville Third Man Records studio within four hours. The common theme of both? They mark the move to unexpected, flexible release models that shake off the more traditional marketing tactics.

The Developing Art of the Rush Release

Of course we’ve already seen a hybrid of these two tactics.

When Beyonce released her self titled album with zero warning last Christmas, it fueled the work to the top of the chats and afforded the singer widespread media coverage. And the simple $5 direct to fan approach adopted by the Whedon new movie release bears all the hallmarks of the model that comedian Louis C.K. has offered for his last couple of specials.

In short, even with these big name additions and notable launch platforms, rush releases aren’t exactly new. But this could be exactly why these latest attempts are important. If prominent entertainers continue to successfully dabble in the rush release tactic, major movie studios and record labels won’t be far behind. In terms of protecting the release from piracy, an unexpected release is about as good as it gets for creators. Pirates inevitably catch up and distribute illegal copies eventually, but the initial burst of interest is likely to bring in significant revenue, particularly as consumers have increased reliable access to instant streaming on mobile devices.

The sticking point is obviously that traditional marketing campaigns are based on a long build up. Teasers, trailers, sneak-peek premieres and reviews all come before the nationwide release date and this model continues to work for blockbusters. There will definitely be more and more experimentation around the edges, though, and that could seep into even the biggest film franchises if box-office revenues start to slip.

It’s an interesting time to be an entertainer and exciting to see some of the industry’s most respected names  embracing new routes of release for customers who want simple, quick access to legally sourced content.

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