This Just In: All New Releases Will Now Come Out on FRIDAYS

You may have wondered why new releases almost always go on sale Tuesdays in North America. A good question, that. It’s because years ago, the industry decided that it was best to have a coordinated on-sale date, which allowed for simultaneous shipping, stocking and selling of new music. That way a new record could go on sale in Prince Rupert, BC, the same day as in Toronto.

It was different in the UK.  Their release day was Monday. Germany, Japan and Australia all had their own days of the week.

This can be rather annoying for people who want to track worldwide sales for two reasons: (1) If music goes on sale Monday in Manchester, it’s a matter of seconds before people in Australia can get their hands on music (often for free) before that same material goes on sale at home the following Friday; and (2) How do you manage sales charts–the industry’s metric for winning and losing–if there’s such chaotic distribution?

Last year the idea was floated of having a single global release day. And they did it. New music will now appear for sale on Fridays. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry has negotiated with all parties involved and has come to an agreement.

Great idea, right? Capitalize on weekend traffic and boost overall sales. Maybe. But some of the loudest opponents to the idea were indies.  Billboard quotes Martin Mills of Beggars Group:

“I fear this move will also lead to a market in which the mainstream dominates, and the niche, which can be tomorrow’s mainstream, is further marginalized. I fear it will further cement the dominance of the few — and that is exactly what it is intended to do.”

Rich Bengloff, head of the American Association of Independent Music, released this statement on the news: “A2IM supports the concept of a global street date but, for a variety of business reasons as spelled out in our previous comments, there are a number of business hurdles that make Fridays less optimal for the United States marketplace, and independents in particular. That said, as part of the worldwide music community, A2IM will endeavor to make the transition as smooth as possible for our members and our commerce partners and a success for our artists’ fans.”

This is gonna mess up the workflows lot of other people in the industry.  Record labels will have to adjust marketing schedules and rollouts.  Radio stations, for example, have much of their work week and programming timing built around the fact that new music comes out on Tuesday. Music bloggers will have to change the timing of their posts. And record stores may have to adjust their staffing.

It’ll be a bumpy transition. It still won’t prevent artists like Drake and Beyonce releasing surprise albums whenever they feel like it, but there will be a little more order to things, which will be good. I think.\

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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