The Publishing Post
Campaign Spotlight: The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present
By Caitlin Davies, Danielle Hernandez and Georgia Rees
For some, the most intimate window into their soul would be reading their diary, for a songwriter there can be nothing more personal than studying their lyrics.
After years of declining to write an autobiography, music industry legend Paul McCartney is releasing a two-volume book featuring the lyrics of 154 songs. Accompanied by photographs, artefacts and some personal commentary, the book promises to take the reader on a journey through some of his most famous lyrics, as well as the inspiration behind them, the circumstances under which they were written and what they have come to mean to the songwriter himself over the years.
A unique visual record of one of the most iconic songwriting careers in history, filled with never before seen material from McCartney’s personal archives. You can be forgiven for thinking this one could simply sell itself. Nonetheless, something of a genius in content marketing already, McCartney has ensured that the marketing for this book has not been overlooked. Ever since his Beatles days McCartney has gone above and beyond to make a big splash while promoting his work, from the rooftop concert in support of the album Let It Be, to the #TriviaTuesday feature on his Instagram stories, right down to the specially curated playlist for his third solo album McCartney III posted to Spotify at exactly 3:33 p.m. BST – talk about attention to detail!
This time McCartney is using his social media accounts to promote his new book The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present by posting teaser trailers, excerpts from interviews and promoting some of the other outstanding events featuring in his campaign.
This campaign has all bases covered, with a range of exciting events to appeal to both bibliophiles and Beatlemaniacs alike. Commencing days after the book’s publication, these events added to the existing excitement generated by this powerful campaign. On 5 November 2021, an evening celebrating the new publication was held at the Southbank Centre, one of London’s major cultural hubs. In conversation with Paul Muldoon and Samira Ahmed, this was Paul McCartney’s first live event in two years. This world-exclusive event was in partnership with Penguin Live, and attracted fans from across the globe, as well as famous faces including Stephen Fry and Caitlin Moran. This event was also accessible via livestream until 12 November. For those streaming The Lyrics: Paul McCartney in Conversation, a discounted copy of the book was available as a ticket add-on, as well as an opportunity to be entered into a prize draw to win a signed copy. As hybrid promotional events are becoming more commonplace, this event remained inclusive for both attendees in the Royal Festival Hall and at home.
The British Library is also hosting an intriguing ongoing event, which also opened on 5 November, running until 13 March 2022. In connection with Paul McCartney: The Lyrics, the library has a free exhibition showcasing unseen content and displaying lyrics from the legendary musician. Accompanying the book, the exhibition has curated a range of handwritten lyrics, photographs and memorabilia, in the spirit of a “kaleidoscopic rather than chronological account” which The Lyrics promises its readers. Alongside this exhibition at the Entrance Hall, the British Library also displays The Beatles’ lyrics permanently in "Treasures of the British Library" in the Sir John Ritblat Gallery. Whilst adding to the buzz surrounding The Lyrics, the library is also using this exhibition as an opportunity to emphasise its large popular music collection, one of the largest in the world.
The marketing campaign for The Lyrics has expertly utilised the rich history of McCartney’s time in The Beatles. On 1 November, the Waterstones branch in Liverpool, the home of The Beatles, transformed the store into an imitation of The Cavern Club – the infamous Liverpool club where the band were first discovered by their manager Brian Epstein. The event, complete with quiz, prize draw and performance by tribute band The Bootleg Beatles, ensured that The Lyrics had a launch night to remember.
Paul McCartney doesn’t stop there. In addition to the fabulous British Library exhibition and multiple events and interviews, McCartney has collaborated with BBC Radio 4 to record Paul McCartney: Inside The Songs, a podcast series diving into the inspirations and stories behind ten of McCartney’s classic songs. Having said that he will never write an autobiography, the podcast provides a powerful accompaniment to The Lyrics, offering a much-anticipated insight into McCartney’s life through the prism of some of his most famous songs. Readers of The Lyrics are offered a unique multi-sensory experience immersing them within the personal thoughts and memories of one of pop’s most celebrated artists.
McCartney has also made numerous appearances to promote the book, including an interview on the new BBC podcast, This Cultural Life. Released on 23 October, the episode discussed McCartney’s inspirations and influences, providing a delicious teaser for those Beatlemaniacs eagerly anticipating the release of The Lyrics.
A name as recognisable as Sir Paul McCartney hardly needs an elaborate marketing campaign, but the impressive and content-heavy marketing accompanying The Lyrics means you’d be hard pressed not to covet a copy.