The music industry’s global trade group has decided on Fridays as the official release day for new albums, everywhere.
For music fans in Britain, new albums come out on Mondays. In the United States, they typically hit stores on Tuesdays. In Japan, it’s Wednesdays.
Back when brick-and-mortar stores were the main outlets for buying music, this retail patchwork made little difference to the industry. But in the digital age it has come to look increasingly antiquated and may lead to piracy as impatient fans trade copies of new albums online.
Now, after months of heated negotiations, the music industry’s global trade group has decided on Fridays as the official release day for new albums, everywhere. According to the trade group, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, this will reduce piracy and align listeners.
“Music fans live in the digital world of today,” Frances Moore, the federation’s chief executive, said in a statement. “They want music when it’s available on the Internet — not when it’s ready to be released in their country.”
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According to Moore, record labels, distributors and others were consulted over nine months of meetings to sort out which day would be best; major retailers and digital outlets including Target, iTunes and Spotify also support the choice of Fridays as a global release day.
Yet the decision has also been criticized by independents and small shops, which say the streamlining of digital sales is coming at the expense of physical retailers. Despite the worldwide drop in album sales, 141 million CDs were sold last year in the United States, as well as more than 9 million vinyl LPs, according to Nielsen Music.
Calling Fridays “probably the worst day to pick,” Joe Nardone Jr., the owner of the Gallery of Sound chain in Pennsylvania, said it could result in logistical problems like being unable to restock a popular title over the weekend.
Martin Mills, the chairman of the British label Beggars Group, and an unofficial spokesman for the independent sector, told retailers in a speech this week that the move would primarily benefit the big record companies.
“It astounds me that the major labels are not listening to their customers, their interface with their artists’ fans,” Mills said. “I fear their consultation has been a charade, and the market leaders were always going to push this through.”
The international federation said it was working with chart managers in each country to adjust the sales period to allow a full week of opening sales. On Thursday, Billboard, the leading U.S. chart, said that a decision would be made on the matter in the coming months.