For years, US music lovers have waited in clenched anticipation for the latest album from their favorite artist on what has become known as “New Music Tuesday.” It’s the day that most major artists and record companies release their most anticipated new albums and singles, and when music lovers can expect a little more excitement in their week. In other countries, the same album could be released earlier or later; but Tuesday has become a tradition for music lovers, record stores, and artists themselves. If you were unaware that there was a set day or were just indifferent, you’re in luck: It’s changing! That’s right; starting this week on July 10, New Music Tuesday is shifting to New Music Friday in a move that is to be adopted by the global record industry. While it was said to be influenced mainly by music buyers and record labels, a slew of factors contributed to the change that has the record industry divided.
The switch from Tuesday to Friday was made by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry; a not-for-profit organization registered in Switzerland, based in London, with offices around the globe. Formed in 1933, the mission statement of the members-only organization is thus: “We promote the value of recorded music, campaign for record producer rights and expand the commercial uses of recorded music in all our member markets.” Since that time, the federation has been characterized as the “United Nations” of record sales, protecting the interests of record labels and distributers and policing the commercial mandates of the industry. Over the past 20 years, their main focus has been on protecting the copyrights of record labels; specifically copyright infringement and piracy. Despite their new modern mission, their customs and policies continue to set the standard in nearly every aspect of the industry.
According to the IFPI, the benefits of making Friday a global release day for new music are multi-fold. When polling music lovers who avidly buy music the day it’s released, the majority claimed Friday and Saturday were the most convenient days (as that’s when the majority of workers get their juicy paycheck). Another major factor in choosing one global day was to combat piracy, especially in regards to recent piracy complaints from Australia. In many cases, an album would be released in a different country before its US release, giving pirates a head start on distributing the material. The IFPI also hopes the move will give consumers the chance to listen to their music as soon as possible, and create an aura around purchasing newly released material on a set day. The recent decision has been praised by RIAA head Cary Sherman, the Music Business Association, Spotify, Rdio, and various union heads.
However, since the IFPI only protects and promotes the interest of major labels and artists, the decision is poised to affect independent labels, musicians, and record stores differently. Many indie labels choose to release their albums on varying days to avoid being trampled under the publicity and promotion from million dollar labels; under the new initiative, a regional bluegrass band would face off against Rhianna on the same day. Martin Mills, head of the UK-based Beggars Group, is the most outspoken opponent of the IFPI’s decision, suggesting that it is intended to marginalize indie businesses and give control of the market to corporate labels. Kim Brayley of the Entertainment Retailers Association noted that the move might not even help increase record sales, as sales were not considered when contemplating the change. Some in the industry agree on a set, global release day, but question the merits of using Friday, with the Department of Record Stores suggesting that keeping Tuesday would make the transition easier for U.S. and U.K. markets.
Regardless of the pros and cons, the IFPI has spoken. So, if you were planning to head out to your favorite local store – or even logging on to iTunes – to get the latest releases tomorrow, wait. Instead, binge watch a TV series, read a book, or spend time with loved ones; your new music is only three days away.