Today is Friday. TGIF. For most countries, it’s the last day of the workweek and the first day of the weekend. Friday has been reserved for some great events. Good Friday. G.O.O.D. Fridays. Black Friday. Friday night lights. It’s even pay day for some. House of Cards season 3 was released today. Fridays are great for a lot of things, but new music isn’t one of them. Yet here we are.
The record industry is adopting Friday as the global album release day this summer. Among the evidence supporting this decision is Beyoncé’s surprise self-titled album, which was released on a Friday and went HAM, selling 828,000 copies in 72 hours. And then Drake did it again, selling 495,000 units of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late in 96 hours. The industry also apparently believes a single release day will stem piracy (it won’t). And of course, it can’t make any money and will do anything to change that. All of this would be fine — go get your money, try to stop piracy, believe in your heart that everyone can do Beyoncé numbers — but they picked the wrong day.
Album releases shouldn't have to be planned around Marvel movies
For years Tuesdays have been the official release date for new music in the US. New Music Tuesdays have been a staple in the culture. You get a night to listen to your new album for a night, and then talk about it the next day with your friends at work or at school. Those "did you hear" discussions — I’ve bought dozens of albums off of those "did you hear" talks. Friday releases kill those exchanges. When you say "did you hear" on Monday, what "you heard" is already old news. Decisions on whether the album is any good have already been made. GIFs have been used. The album becomes last week’s news, and no one wants to be last week’s news.
Everyone isn't Beyoncé
Friday is also the the day new movies are released in theaters. That means record labels will now have to make sure Marvel isn’t dropping another blockbuster on the same day as an album release. Not everyone is a Beyoncé or Drake. Not everyone can release albums in the middle of the night and cause worldwide hysteria. (And using Beyoncé as proof Friday releases can work worldwide is just asinine. Beyoncé could have been released during the Super Bowl and people would have stopped paying attention to download it.) There are only a select few artists in 2015 who possess that power. (The List: Beyoncé, Drake, Adele, Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Jay Z, no one else.) For the everyone else, there will be a genuine question of whether people will buy your album or go see that new movie.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), who represents music labels around the world, did a survey of seven countries showing that "nearly 7 out of 10 people" want new music released on Friday or Saturday. "An aligned global release day puts an end to the frustration of not being able to access releases in their country when the music is available in another country." IFPI CEO Frances Moore said. Sure. Okay. That’s a problem for everyone without YouTube, but it’s 2015.
The primary goal for this shift is to curb piracy before an album is released. The thinking is that one worldwide release will eliminate the period in which an album can be pirated before its release in the US. But the problem with that is just about every album is leaked three days before it hits physical stores. It doesn't matter when the commercial release date is if a physical copy exists somewhere in the world before that day. One release day is a good idea in theory, but there’s only one way to stop piracy before an album is released — stop making physical copies.
There’s only one way to stop piracy before an album is released — stop making physical copies
"Music fans live in the digital world of today," IFPI boss Frances Moore wrote in his statement. Jay Z and Kanye West figured out that we live in "the digital world of today" when they released Watch The Throne back in 2011. It was available online-only for the first four days of its release, before it hit brick and mortar stores (it didn’t leak). But retailers were upset. Then Beyoncé did it in 2013 (it didn’t leak). And retailers were mad again. Drake did it a few weeks ago (it didn’t leak). This time retailers didn’t even get the album, and haven’t said a word. The cure for the album leak epidemic has been sitting in front of the music industry for nearly four years, and they haven’t figured it out yet. If you want to stop albums from leaking early, stop making physical copies before the album is available.
So to the IFPI and those in power in the music industry: the answer to your piracy problem is:
- The Internet (how ironic!)
- Not going up against Marvel, or Fast & Furious 13, or Fifty Thousand Shades of Grey.
Now can we have our Tuesdays back? The club can’t go up them without new music.