Everyone, no matter who you are, knows who One Direction are. You will have heard their music, seen their pictures, and come across their merch – these boys were inescapable at one point. However, since the band went on hiatus, the boys have all pursued their own things, from launching solo carers to acting roles in movies, coaching, charity work, art, and so much more.
Louis Tomlinson was one of those who embarked upon a solo career, launching an album that received amazing reviews and brought in new fans as well as delighting those from Louis’ One Direction days. His songs were successful, with two placing within the UK top 10 and another three placing within the UK top 40. The tracks were a balanced mix of Britpop and indie, the lyrics poignant and hard-hitting, reaching fans on a personal level. @stacemcw stated in a short twitter interview, “Louis’s music to me means strength, love and the power of believing in yourself, despite others putting you down or holding you back. You have the power inside you to be strong and to rise up and I love that his music inspires that in me and in many of his fans.”
But did the Walls album receive the amount of promotion from management that would be expected from an album release – especially a debut album as a solo artist? If we look at the amount of promotion, interviews, and air time on music channels like MTV and radio coverage the other boys received, then the answer would be a resounding no.
By definition, promotion is the advertising and publicising of an act, event, offer, or service to increase interest and demand. Additionally, “a promotional campaign is to raise awareness…with the intention of increasing sales from various target demographics…create, advertise and oversee many live events and public appearances for talent.”
Between 2015 and 2020, Louis has appeared (by my count) in twenty interviews/live appearances, most of which were on the radio. As much as radio exposure is positive, it’s also limiting in terms of time and what can be mentioned. Also, there is no denying that video exposure is more far-reaching. In comparison, Harry Styles appeared in 66 interviews/live appearances during the same time period and boasted a healthy balance of tv, radio, and news articles. This isn’t to say Harry Styles doesn’t deserve the exposure and promotion he received but rather is simply to highlight just how much Louis’ team let him down.
In saying that, Louis was a judge on X Factor Uk in 2018, where he mentored Dalton Harris to victory as the winner of X Factor. This stint as a judge gave Louis some much-needed exposure and highlighted that the star clearly knew was he was doing in terms of musical entertainment. It’s unclear, though, how much Louis wanted to do the X Factor and how much of it was contractual, as he didn’t get to release his album until 2020 although it was ready to be released prior to this. It’s possible the appearance on X Factor UK was part of the bargain for finally getting the album out to the public.
A lot of the promotional shortfall has been picked up by Louis himself via his social media and also by fans completing fan projects and spreading the word via social media. After talking to Louis Tomlinson fans on the promotional aspect of his music, it’s clear there’s a consensus that the fans and Louis himself did more work than Louis’ actual team. One such fan, @hannahishome28, stated that Louis means “simply everything” to them and that they “recommend him to my friends all the time. I tweet with his hashtags and stream his music!” A sentiment echoed by @stacemcw, “I’m sharing, listening, getting my friends to listen and encouraging people who wouldn’t normally listen to Louis to give him a try.”
The effect of the covid pandemic on the ability to attend concert venues and the financial difficulty of many fans being put on furlough was exceedingly drastic. Louis, as did many other artists, could see that fans weren’t able to afford or safely travel to any events, thus greatly impacting any promotional events during this time. Still, the fans didn’t give up…and neither did Louis.
In order to help boost fans’ moods and also promote himself and other bands, Louis put on a music festival out of his own pocket – Away From Home. Here, he comped the ticket prices so fans were only paying a nominal amount, taking the brunt of the cost upon himself. He also shelled out for hiring the venue, utilities, safety measures and security, hiring artists and local talent, travel, insurance, and taxes ultimately costing Louis around 2 million dollars. The festival reached more people via live streams than were able to attend and ultimately solidified the fan base into more of an extended family rather than strangers who had a common interest. In terms of promoting the festival, Louis relied heavily on his own social media posts and fans to spread the word, receiving minimal support from his management team.
However, it’s my opinion that no fan has been more supportive of Louis than @louis28tpwk has. It would seem that this fan has taken the lack of promotion from management very personally and they have taken amazing steps to try and right this wrong.
“I made several flyers and handed them out to strangers, I printed posters for my city, sent the songs to people in my life that haven’t listened to Louis before and just talk about the album as much as i can so people know how good it is going to be.”
When asked directly for their view on Wall’s promotion, they stated that “absolutely not enough”, expanding that “there was so much promo that the fans did…his team should have done more for Walls!”
All in all, regardless of the lacklustre promotion of Walls, Louis has managed to win 16 awards for his solo contribution to the music industry, not including all the fan-based awards and polls he has won.
@stacemcw suggests that the lack of promotion is preventing newer fans from finding Louis, stating “the poor engagement and marketing have impacted him to this day with many newer fans coming late to his music and discovering him by listening to Harry or like me through a random TikTok.”