We’re now two Fridays in to this new era where all new music on the planet comes out on the same day. The industry has been very keen to push New Music Fridays on us in hopes that we’ll change our buying habits as distribution of new releases moved from Tuesday to Friday. But is this really a good idea? This article in Medium says no.
July 10th marked the first day of “New Music Friday” (NMF). For the past 25 years in the United States, new music releases came out every Tuesday. However, albums were released on Mondays in the U.K and Canada, and Fridays in Australia and Germany. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), a trade group representing record companies worldwide, sought to change this and created a unified release day. The IFPI argued that an aligned worldwide release day would benefit consumers. After consultation with various stakeholders, the IFPI determined Friday would be the worldwide standard for new music releases.
It is important first to consider just who comprises the IFPI. The IFPI represents 1,300 record companies worldwide but its members are hardly a diverse group. Their website lists only five members in the United States with three of the five being major labels: Sony, Universal and Warner. Hardly a cross-section of American labels. Canada, in fact, has only Sony, Universal, and Warner as members! IFPI does not represent the interest of United States labels nor consumers. Although the CEO of U.S. based Newbury Comics is quoted in favor of NMF, the support from “industry leaders” cited by IFPI skews heavily towards the major labels and groups. Public support from independent record labels or stores is hard to find.
While NMF might help alleviate logistical issues, consumers are not the primary reason for the shift to a worldwide standard. Adrian Strain, head of communications for the IFPI, argued consumers were at a disadvantage because someone in the U.K. could buy a release on a Monday, several days before a consumer could do the same on a Friday. In other words, the music buying consumer in Australia would be jealous of those who could buy an album earlier in the U.K. Strain argued this jealousy would lead to a friend in the U.K uploading the album so their friend in Australia could listen to the album before it came out at the end of the week. The IFPI’s true motive behind NMF is therefore revealed: NMF is not to benefit consumers but to prevent piracy.