In a long awaited move that signals the globalization of the music industry, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) recently announced an international alignment to release new music on a Friday. As the IFPI release indicates, “From summer 2015, new albums and singles will be released at 00:01 local time on Fridays.”
The move shifts the new release schedule away from the traditional Tuesday for two primary reasons:
1. To shift new releases to coincide with common paydays for music listeners.
2. To avoid varied release days in different countries given how the digital market levels the field.
PledgeMusic co-founder and president Benji Rogers recently answered some questions about the new global release schedule.
What does the shift mean for artists across the board -- both for major label artists as well as indies?
Well, the shift will work well for the major labels that have been lobbying for such a move since they will continue to receive the lion’s share of attention when the move is made later this summer. Attention on social media will likely cater to the ones putting significant ad dollars behind it, creating a funnel effect where everyone vies for attention at the same time.
The obvious outcome is that it’s going to unfortunately become too easy for some artists to get lost in the process. This is what [Beggars group chairman] Martin Mills said earlier this week. In this way, it’s important for artists to begin to think outside the box when it comes to approaching their releases.
What will that new schedule look like and how will that affect the emerging artist?
All press and social media on Thursday and Friday is going to be geared toward somebody else. What others have to do is look for cracks within that structure. When you know that services will be at their busiest, sometimes it’s the hardest time to find things. Facebook is going to prioritize what is popular that day, and that might not necessarily be you.
What thoughts come to mind when you say to think outside the box?
If the entire industry is going to focus on and barrel toward a Friday release, this is the perfect moment for artists to hack their digital releases, physical releases and, more importantly, experiences into different time scales. If everyone’s running into the same Friday pipe, they’re going to naturally compete with each other for exposure. Instead, if an artist decides to release at a different time of the day or week, like if you upload on CD Baby, TuneCore or Distrokid at 2:00 on a Sunday morning, you’re not competing with every single major label and independent act at the same time.
Artists should be thinking about how they can use this to their advantage and even other days and times than the new global release day. One of the things I’ve studied at Pledge was email open rates and when people read them. There’s a reason we send our newsletters on Thursdays at 11:00 a.m., because it’s a good time of the week. People are past Wednesday, going into the weekend, and we’ve seen it do better than when everybody else is doing it.
So you’re saying that groupthink doesn’t necessarily equal the right approach. In fact it could be the wrong one entirely?
This is an industry-wide decision, but personally I have to question the logic of everyone doing something at the same time. The Internet just isn’t about that. Ultimately a more traditional mindset has created an industry in decline. We have to look at things differently. Making a move to a Friday schedule is not a bad thing for everyone, but the hacker/artist side of me thinks it’s the perfect moment to disrupt.
While the new model will help some, it cannot by definition help everyone. Some will get hurt in the process, but it’s the perfect time for emerging and independent artists to see potential for a subversive approach in which they inhabit a less-cluttered space. You can’t afford to do what everyone else is doing just because that’s how it’s done. It might take some experimentation and risk, but it’s worth it for the potential impact.