It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get releases down on Friday. Everybody’s lookin’ forward to… Actually, sorry Rebecca Black*, everybody’s NOT looking forward to the prospect of Friday as the new ‘global release day’ for music, with some retailers and independent labels distinctly unhappy at the idea. Even so, that’s what the IFPI is expected to announce this week, after a consultation process that has sparked plenty of debate.
Music Week has gone early with the news thanks to unnamed sources confirming that an announcement was imminent, and that Friday would be the day. “The good news has been the widespread support we’ve seen around the world for global release day – no one has seriously questioned the concept, the only debate has been about the day,” said IFPI boss Frances Moore, adding that many retailers, labels and artist organisations have supported Friday.
“There are other voices who prefer other days, and that’s not surprising. It would be very surprising if a project like this, involving over 50 national markets, didn’t lead to some objections in some markets,” said Moore. Those other voices are unlikely to pipe down even after the announcement though. “It seems to me to be crazy to throw away one of the trading week’s two peaks, and the ability to re-stock and rectify errors before the week’s second peak,” said Beggars Group’s Martin Mills earlier this week.
“It astounds me that the major labels are not listening to their customers, their interface with their artists’ fans. I fear their consultation has been a charade, and the market leaders were always going to push this through. 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 marginalised.”
In the digital field, issues like re-stocking aren’t a factor: and if anything the need for a global release day is less pressing in a world of downloads and streaming: whether it’s big artists like Beyoncé and Drake dropping surprise albums on the day of their choosing, or smaller artists serving fans through crowdfunding and/or their own D2C stores.
But Mills’ criticism is part of a wider debate about changes not just to the way music is released, but how it’s measured – whether for charts or industry market-share purposes – and how that affects the independent sector. Friday may be a done deal for global release day, but the IFPI’s announcement will add kindling to this wider debate, rather than quenching it.
*Sorry, Music Ally readers, for your internal jukeboxes after that first paragraph. Would it help if we mentioned The Cure at this point?