Say goodbye, if you haven’t already, to browsing the record store for new releases each Tuesday. Or Monday, if you’re in the United Kingdom. Or Wednesday, if you’re in Japan. The music industry is officially doing away with this disorienting array of different release days and shifting to a single global release day of Friday.
Starting this summer, new albums and singles will become available at one minute after midnight local time on Fridays. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), an organization representing the worldwide music industry, announced the change today.
The group said the move will help music fans who are dismayed that people in other parts of the world can hear new music ahead of them. Artists will gain from having a single release day to promote via social media, according to the IFPI. And the organization said the change will also lower the risk of piracy by shortening the amount of time between release days in various countries.
As for the choice of Friday, which has received criticism from independent record stores and labels since the IFPI first announced the possible change last August, the organization cited consumer research showing a preference for Friday or Saturday.
“There will be upheaval for some, no doubt,” said IFPI CEO Frances Moore in a online statement. “However, the truth is that there has been no credible alternative to a Friday proposed that would work at the global level.”
The IFPI also shared a list of supporting quotes from various organizations, ranging from its U.S. equivalent, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), to the company that owns retailer HMV.
While there’s broad support for the idea of a global release day, some in the industry have opposed releasing new music on Friday
In November, an international coalition of independent record stores and independent labels called for a Monday global release day. They worry that new music currently has two “bites at the apple” — earlier in the week, when they’re released in the United States or Britain, and then again on Friday or Saturday, when many consumers have just been paid — and soon will only have one such opportunity. Retailers will also lose an opportunity to be sure they’re properly stocked ahead of the weekend.
Martin Mills, head of the Beggars Group, the biggest U.K. independent label (home to 4AD, Matador, Rough Trade, XL and Young Turks), has expressed the concern the change will hurt niche music.
“It astounds me that the major labels are not listening to their customers, their interface with their artists’ fans,” he said earlier this week, as quoted by The Guardian. “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. I fear it will further cement the dominance of the few – and that that is exactly what it is intended to do.”
If the little guys have lost this fight, they might take some consolation in the fact that the FCC is expected to vote today on a net neutrality plan that has received support from groups representing musicians and indie labels. That may mean listeners won’t have to worry about slower streaming speeds for a new album when it’s released on some future Friday, but it won’t make the following Tuesday (or Monday, or…) any less dreary.
See our previous global release day coverage:
Why Friday Shouldn’t Become the Global Release Day for New Music
Friday Global Release Day? Australia’s in Love
Record Stores, Indie Labels Back Monday Release Day