Dave Junker

Photo Credit: Lydia Thron | Daily Texan Staff

The time between an album’s announcement to the tour’s final show used to be fairly standard: advertise the album, release a few singles, drop the record and promote the album with videos and a tour. 

This standard is undergoing major revision as many popular artists ignore it completely by implementing spontaneous album releases. Years of experimentation have led labels to abandon extensive PR and instead rely on hype and social media to drive an album’s sales, avoiding the undermining effects of a potential leak.

Staying relevant has always been crucial in music sales, but few acts have perfected this. Although social media was not prevalent when the White Stripes toured, Jack White and Meg White performed seemingly random day shows — playing on a boat, a public bus or even a bowling alley — before their concerts to promote their concerts and sell tickets.

This trend trickled over from live performances to album releases, such as Beyoncé’s surprise release of her self-titled fifth album. The impact of the release was massive; social media buzzed for days about the release and the album received critical acclaim and debuted at number one in the U.S.

Social media was at the core of the success of Beyoncé’s album. Spreading the news of an artist’s new album is as simple as hitting the retweet button. Dave Junker, advertising and public relations lecturer, said the crux of social media is that it costs almost nothing for a PR group to use; the user does all the advertising.

“Beyoncé is a prime example of how this model works,” Junker said. “The surprise release of her album allowed the loyal fan base to help promote the album. It becomes an organic thing, a bit of a sensation.”

Junker said when users’ Facebook and Twitter feeds fill up with comments on a new album, people are more likely to purchase the record. 

Other artists have followed suit. Drake mirrored Beyoncé’s model: He released his mixtape via Twitter, received more than 110,000 retweets and sold almost half-a-million albums in three days. 

Junker said piracy plays a major role when considering how to announce and release a record. 

“The main reason labels are pursuing these quick releases is to minimize the potential impact of some of the albums getting leaked,” Junker said. “As artists and management struggle to handle how quickly the industry is evolving, these quick releases help avoid major pitfalls.”

If people get word that an album was released, Junker said they are more likely to support the artist by purchasing a digital or actual hard copy than downloading an illegal copy. Piracy is unavoidable once the album is released but eliminating the possibility of an accidental release or leak before the album formally releases increases sales.

This trend may or may not be temporary, but one thing is for sure: it works.

As part of the College of Communication’s Senior Fellow honors program, associate professor Germine Awad gives a lecture Monday afternoon on bias against Middle Easterners in the U.S. after 9/11 through focusing on how acculturation and identity influence discrimination.

Photo Credit: Danielle Villasana | Daily Texan Staff

 The prejudice toward Arab Americans is still rampant in a post-9/11 world, said associate professor Germine Awad in a lecture on the ongoing bias in the U.S. against Middle Easterners.

Awad’s discussion was held Oct. 11 as a part of the College of Communication’s Senior Fellows honors program, which hosts public lectures to foster interdisciplinary dialogue with other departments, said Senior Fellows director Dave Junker.

Junker said the program’s introductory course is centered on the theme of 9/11 and American culture this semester.

Junker said Awad takes an empirical look at prejudice toward Arab Americans as well as other Middle Eastern Americans after 9/11 and brings to light the population of Arab Americans who are diverse in their experiences.

“I think it’s valuable to have empirical research that tries to quantify and assess prejudice, how often it occurs and in what ways beyond our kind of anecdotal understanding of this stuff,“ Junker said. “It helps to document the larger or deeper reality.”

Awad said she remembers being a graduate student when she heard the news of 9/11 and feeling a sense of shock and dismay she’s sure was felt by many Americans. She said she knew the repercussions would be bad for a lot of people.

“People of Middle Eastern descent or perceived to be Middle Eastern [didn’t] necessarily get to have an opinion about 9/11 or get to express emotions that any American was expressing on this day,” Awad said.

She said there was a lot of overgeneralization that occurred during the flurry to provide information about Middle Easterners, Arabs and Muslims after 9/11. She said interest in the project came from reaction to people making statements without proper data.

Awad said she targeted individuals of Arab or Middle Eastern descent and their perceptions of discrimination in her study. She said her study involved 177 participants and used acculturation, ethnic identity and religious identification as the tested variables.

Fifty-two percent of the study sample reported that it has been implied that Arab Americans and Middle Easterners were dangerous or violent as a result of their ethnicity, she said.

“In some ways, [prejudice] was sanctioned by our leadership,” Awad said. “After 9/11, George Bush [was] quoted saying ‘This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while’ using loaded language like crusade, [or] holy war, sort of set the stage for how American attitudes should be towards the Middle East and those who are perceived to be Middle Eastern or Muslim.”

Presently, there have been interventions to reduce prejudice such as bringing people together to foster greater understanding and to open up dialogue about people’s preoccupations, and in that way, strides are made towards trying to decrease prejudice, Awad said.

Printed on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 as: Arab American prejudice still prevalent after Sept. 11