Something From Nothing: Foo Fighters’ “Sonic Highways” Release Strategy

Foo Fighters have been no strangers to music headlines lately, be it their well-reviewed HBO series documenting the making of their next studio album or their week-long stint on the Late Show with David Letterman. But the way that the band has been releasing Sonic Highways, the forthcoming 8th effort due out on Nov. 10th, has been a strategy worth noting.

With each weekly episode of the series (bearing the same name of the new record) chronicling the recording of one of the eight new Foo’s tracks, it would only be appropriate that fans are given some sort of sample of the finished products. The band did something better, choosing to release every track on the album as a single, one at a time, based on which episode of the show airs on HBO that week. The most recent release came this past Friday, being the Zac Brown-feature “Congregation” recorded at Southern Ground Studios in Nashville, and this week will presumably bring the release of the Austin, TX track “What Did I Do? / God As My Witness” that features modern blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr. But this strategy is something that hasn’t been seen in a long time (if ever), and it bodes the question if the one-at-a-time idea is one worthwhile.

Currently, all three singles that have been released from Sonic Highways are sitting in the iTunes top 200 singles list (as of 11/5/14). The only other artists to exceed three songs from one album in that list are today’s biggest pop superstars. Calvin Harris, Ariana Grande, and Iggy Azalea are among those holding this level of consistent success right now, and the Foos have proven their dominance as a premiere rock act being the only one in their genre to have three or more songs per album on that list. The album itself also sits at a comfortable #14 on the albums chart, and it is still only in the preorder stage. Previously? It was at #1.

The Dave Grohl-led Sonic Highways project has already proven to be an interesting one. A TV documentary about the album and music as a whole, a step by step release, a small bar tour, and promises already that the next album will be even bigger. Keep your calendars marked for November 10th, because the Foo Fighters are about to break rock and roll wide open.