Is it time to bid a fond farewell to the position of Q4 as the kingpin period of music revenues? A feature on Variety suggests that it might. “Forty percent of our business [used to be] done between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, the majority of our business was between April and September. Consumer behavior has changed,” said Monte Lipman, chairman and CEO of Republic Records. Although bear in mind that Republic’s roster includes Drake (whose last album came out in June), Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj (both August) so to some extent, this year’s performance is about when those albums were ready for release. That in itself illustrates the change though: the nature of streaming means it’s almost better to bring major releases out in the summer so they can build towards Q4 on streaming services.
Others interviewed by Variety suggest this is a pre-streaming trend, however. “Q4 has been losing share since Apple introduced iTunes in 2001,” suggested former Universal Music Group Distribution boss Jim Urie. The piece outlines how box-sets remain attractive gifts in the run-up to Christmas, but while calls for “a streaming equivalent to [the 1980’s campaign] Give the Gift of Music” (from Ingrooves EVP and GM Amy Dietz) make sense, we wonder whether the real new Q4 boost will come from the pre-Christmas subscription promos run by the likes of Spotify (with its now-familiar three-months-for-$0.99 campaigns) rather than on an individual artist level.