If you’ve been in the music business for any length of time you know that for a great long while now Tuesday has always been the day that record labels would release their new music. The reason for Tuesday is the same that many PR agents hold their press releases until Tuesday as well – Monday is just too busy and noisy as people try to catch up from the weekend, and later in the week may not get as much attention as people get more work piled on them or are planning for the weekend.
That’s why it’s such a surprise that the music industry is on the verge of naming Friday as the new global street day for all new releases. Industry bible Billboard Magazinereports that that this new procedure will be put into effect in July of 2015.
So why the change, you may be wondering? According to the report, it’s to prevent piracy. Right now, each country has it’s own release day, which means that if an album is released in Australia on Friday, or the UK on Monday, the recording is already copied and spread online by the time the Tuesday release rolls around in the United States.
On the surface this seems to be a perfectly reasonable action until you begin to think about it. First of all, is piracy even an issue anymore? Except for a very few territories, we now live in an increasingly stream-filled world where music consumers have little desire to own the product that they listen to. If you don’t want to own it, then there’s no reason to want to steal it.
For example, when was the last time you heard the issue of music piracy brought up? How about never in the last year or so. Five years ago, a global street day would have been a legitimate solution that benefited the industry well; today it’s akin to building a separate lane on the freeway for horse-drawn carriages. It’s fix for a problem that doesn’t exist.
Then there’s the issue of selecting Friday as the universal release day. Was the date chosen because it was surmised that since people get paid on Friday, maybe they’ll spend more of their paycheck on new releases? People no longer get paid only on Fridays (it’s the 1st and 15th in most cases), and music consumers aren’t buying product, so that premise doesn’t seem to hold water.
Is changing to Friday worth disrupting the physical distribution pipeline in the US, which has been used to Tuesday for decades? That part of the business is fragile as it is and certainly doesn’t need a negative push in the wrong direction. Is it worth disrupting the spending habits of the existing hard core fans that do actually buy product and eagerly await for Tuesday to come around? That might be an easier habit to change, but remember that the new Friday releases will then be competing with the weekend activities as the customer decides what to do with her money.
The universal release day does have the benefit of coordinating a release worldwide, which is important in this global economy of ours of which so much is now centered online, but holding it up as some sort of panacea for piracy is a solution to a problem that has pretty much fixed itself. Plus, changing from Tuesday to Friday in the US could end up hurting the music industry more than actually helping it. It’s just one more example of the glacial-like reaction time that has put the industry in the revenue-starved position it currently finds itself.
– Bobby Owsinski is the author is 24 books on recording, music, the music business and social media. Read excerpts at bobbyowsinski.com