After seven months of semi-public back-and-forth, a conversation instigated in part by Aussie piracy and Beyonce’s surprise release in December of 2013 has resulted in the global recording industry accepting Friday as the release date for new albums. As reported in August, the shift will take place this summer.
According to a statement from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which represents labels worldwide, a study found that a majority of consumers who bother to care which day new music comes out prefer to hear it on Fridays and Saturdays.
“Music fans live in the digital world of today,” wrote IFPI head Frances Moore. “Their love for new music doesn’t recognise national borders. They want music when it’s available on the internet — not when it’s ready to be released in their country. An aligned global release day puts an end to the frustration of not being able to access releases in their country when the music is available in another country.”
The proposal wasn’t met with hosannas from every corner of the industry, however. While most agreed that a globally agreed-upon day for new music was best, there was some consternation over the choice of Friday. “The only justification for a Friday release date would be if it resulted in a net increase in sales,” Entertainment Retailers Association Kim Bayley said in early October. (Sales weren’t central to the IFPI’s justifications for the move, though combating piracy could be considered the same thing.)
Just this week, Beggars Group chairman Martin Mills said: “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.”
The Department of Record Stores, an affiliation of independent record stores in the U.S. and Canada — had proposed the world adopt the current U.S. release day, Tuesday, arguing that easing the transition for the top two music markets in the world (North America and the U.K.) would save costs for smaller operators in the business.
Regardless of the opposition, Friday it is. A press release of quotes in support of the change from a long list of industry leaders — RIAA head Cary Sherman, Concord president and CEO Glen Barros, outspoken Orchard founder Scott Cohen, Rdio CEO Anthony Bay and representatives from Sweden, Spain, Italy, Australia, Germany and France’s trade bodies — clearly shows there’s little room to turn this car around.