How does the biggest record label promote the biggest album by their biggest priority of 2021?

Justin Bieber’s Justice is the 6th studio album by the Canadian mega popstar. It was released on March 19th by SB Projects (RBMG, Schoolboy), UMG and Def Jam, 2021 debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart with 14 featured artists on the deluxe. 

In terms of music marketing, it doesn’t really get any bigger than this.

I wanted to take a quick glance at the promotional rollout of 2021’s biggest record so far. On first glance, two things popped out to me immediately: 

  • Multiple singles release strategy
  • Heavy emphasis on video content

In this teardown, I’ll detail the promotional calendar covering the 6 month run up to album release so you can see how the biggest labels roll out their biggest priority releases.

Key info

Artist Justin Bieber
Release dateMarch 19th, 2021 
Timeline (first single – album release)6 months (September 18th – March 19th)

LP: Justice

EP: JB6, Digital & Streaming
LP: Justice, Digital & Streaming, CD, cassette
LP: Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe), Digital & Streaming
Genre Pop
Merch Items

Justice – 30 total number of merch items
-4 CD (alternative cover art)
-3 cassette (alternative cover art)
-2 digital albums
-2 digital single
-8 T-shirts
-1 glow crewneck
-3 hoodie
-1 sweatpants
-1 type of socks
-2 hat
-1 Nalgene
-1 keychain
-1 poster

Holy – 18 total number of merch items
-7 T-shirt
-3 crop top
-3 hoodie
-2 face covering
-1 poster
-1 CD
-1 digital single

Anyone – 11 total number of merch items
-1 T-shirt
-3 crewneck
-1 hoodie
-3 sweatpants
-1 hat
-1 CD single
-1 digital single
Release week chart position1

Key people

ArtistJustin Bieber

Def Jam
SB Projects / RBMG / Schoolboy
Universal Music
ManagementScooter Braun, SB Projects
PublicistIn house @ Def Jam
Featured Artists

Justice standard edition: Khalid, Chance, the Rapper, The Kid Laroi, Dominic Fike, Daniel Caesar, Giveon, Beam, Burna Boy, Benny Blanco

Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe): Lil Uzi Vert, Jaden, Quavo, DaBaby, Tori Kelly

Justice is a singles campaign strategy, rather than traditional pop album rollout

Bieber took a singles strategy like most artists do in 2021 dropping a single a month for 5-6 months wrapping them up into an album. 

What separates a singles strategy from an album strategy with focus singles is the resources put into each single and cadence of release. 

Singles strategies treat each single like a mini-campaign – using music videos, performances and bespoke merch. 

For example, ‘Holy’ the first single featuring Chance, The Rapper had 11 videos and an entire merch line of 18 items available upon release on September 18th, 2020. ‘Anyone’ a collaboration with Benny Blanco the 3rd single released on January 1st, 2021 had 7 videos and a merch line of 11 items. 

These both released before the record that had 30 merch items and 30 videos.

Had this been a more traditional album oriented roll out there would’ve been less singles released pre-album, likely 3. One single would’ve been the focus having most resources deployed into its promotion at radio and the other 2 may have been fan favorites to get the fanbase talking.

By taking a singles strategy they were able to build momentum with streaming through a consistent release of content.

Promotional Calendar shows consistent activity across each single launch

Audience Growth 

Audience growth during release month, March 1 – 28th, 2021

Source: Soundcharts, data pulled March 29th, 2021

Content strategy: lots and lots and lots of videos

Music videos6
Additional Video Content

Documentary: 2
Performance: 6
Visualizer & Lyrics: 25
Trailer: 1
Behind-the-scenes: 4
Livestream: 4
Alternative music videos: 11
TV appearances

October 17, 2020: The 46th season of Saturday Night Live
November 15, 2020: 6th People’s Choice Awards.
November 22, 2020: 2020 American Music Awards
March 13, 2021: 2021 Kids’ Choice Awards
March 18, 2021: The Late Late Show with James Corden
March 22, 2021 and March 24, 2021: Good Morning America

The content strategy on this release was insane. In the 6 months covering the first single to album release date, Biebs dropped 59 videos on his YouTube channel. 

59 videos. YouTube alone.

YouTube View during campaign (Sept. 2020 – Mar. 2021)

Source: VidIQ, data pulled 3.29.2021

The campaign started with the 2 part documentary ‘Next Chapter’ where viewers get a look at Bieber’s life in quarantine and while recording Justice. While talking about the documentary, Bieber said: “I’m excited to catch up with [the fans] and to share the progress I’m making, the new music I’m working on, and what I’m excited about for the future.”

Many of the focus singles had multiple pieces of content. 

This is something that every artist of any size can take away. Multiple videos sustain interest in a track by: 

  1. Creating a narrative arc that hooks fans, both new and existing
  2. Showing more of your personality traits, which develops a deeper connection with fans as they identify similar traits in themselves 
  3. Giving a reason to keep talking about your track after it’s released.

For example, ‘Holy feat. Chance, The Rapper’ has 11 videos.

Final thoughts

You can learn a lot by studying the top. For Justice that is:

  1. Emphasize content to sustain interest and social and streaming growth over a half year period 
  2. Treat each single like it’s own campaign with whatever your means allows you to create, i.e.: merch, video content, fan engagement strategies and publicity 
  3. Build in elements that show your personality to build interest in your character, which deepens the connection with fans. This includes documentary style content, behind the scenes, interviews and showing your favorite things. For Biebs that seemed to be The Maple Leafs and Hailey Bieber.