Friday July 10, 2015 will mark the beginning of a new era in record distribution when it becomes the first ever globally aligned release day for new music.
The launch date for the scheme was announced today (June 11) by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which has been co-ordinating the switchover towards a unified release date in consultation with labels, retailers, artist representatives, music unions and chart companies.
More than 45 countries have signed up to the global release day initiative, including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Australia. However, in some countries, particularly in Asia, local music repertoire will still be released on different days. For instance, in Japan domestic acts will continue to release new music on Wednesdays, two days earlier than international repertoire.
At present, new music is released on different days throughout the world. In the United Kingdom and France, Monday is the traditional day when product hits shelves. In the U.S. and Canada, it is Tuesday; Australia, Ireland and Germany prefers Fridays. IFPI hopes that the move towards an internationally aligned release date — where all new music, including singles and albums in both physical and digital formats is made available from retailers at 00.01 local time every Friday — will create a sense of occasion, boost consumer demand and help prevent piracy.
“This was done primarily for the consumer” IFPI CEO Frances Moore tells Billboard. “Consumers were telling us via different pieces of research done across many countries that Fridays and Saturdays was when they wanted new music and that’s what has led this campaign. We’re hoping that with more consumers in stores on Fridays and Saturdays, which stores tell us leads to increase impulse buying, and with peak activity on most social media [typically taking place over the weekend], will all lead to an increase in sales.”
Moore says that July was chosen to launch the scheme “to make sure that any glitches in the system were dealt with over the summer period,” ahead of the key Q4 sales period. “We believe we’re ready, but in the next couple of weeks there will be some fine-tuning” she adds.
As part of the global release day launch, IFPI also unveiled its “New Music Fridays” branding, which it hopes will further boost consumer interest. Among the confirmed releases for the July 10 launch date is the debut album from London-based electro pop act Years & Years via Interscope Records.
“Today’s recorded music industry operates in an increasingly borderless world,” said Edgar Berger, chairman and CEO, international, Sony Music Entertainment, in a press release from IFPI. “Hits can come from anywhere and spread everywhere. Some superstars have already launched their albums simultaneously worldwide, now all artists will be able to reach their global fan bases on the same day,” Berger went on to say calling the switchover “good news for music fans everywhere.”
His words were echoed by a long list of execs who have lent their support to global release day, including: Geoff Taylor, BPI and BRIT Awards chief executive; Glen Barros, president and CEO, Concord Music Group; Anthony Bay, CEO, Rdio; Scott Cohen, co-founder, The Orchard; Ian Harvey, executive director, Australian Music Retailers Association (AMRA); Andrew Kronfeld, president, global marketing, Universal Music Group and Cary Sherman, chairman and CEO, RIAA, who said: “The status quo does not work anymore. We can’t do business and serve fans based on a distribution system from a half a century ago, with different release dates in different countries. We have to rethink everything.”
However, not everyone welcomes the change, with a number of U.S. retailers questioning the decision to switch from a Tuesday release date to the end of the working week. “Global release day? Great idea. Friday? A really crazy, poor idea,” Mike Fratt, general manager and buyer at Homer’s Music in Omaha, Neb., told the Wall Street Journal last fall.
Beggars Group founder and CEO Martin Mills has also expressed concerns about the implementation of a global release day. “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,” said Mills at the February launch of Britain’s Entertainment Retailers Assn (ERA) manifesto for growth. Mills went on to say: “I fear it will further cement the dominance of the few — and that is exactly what it is intended to do.”