This update is from Leeza Panayiotou LLB(Hons)
Friday 10th July 2015 a.k.a the start of New Music Fridays, came and went and the world did not implode.
To remind readers, on 26th February 2015, the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI) announced that following “consultation with artists, musicians unions, records companies and retailers…the release day for new music will be aligned internationally on a Friday”. This also saw the move of the Official BBC Radio 1 Chart show to a Friday, which has aired on a Sunday since 1987.
There were a whole host of people (especially in the USA – seriously, check Twitter) who were outraged that the music industry had the audacity to synchronise the release of new music across the globe to one specific day – a Friday.
But the IFPI and music industry’s reasons for making the change were both commendable and all encompassing; “As well as helping music fans, the move will benefit artists who want to harness social media to promote their new music. It also creates the opportunity to re-ignite excitement and a sense of occasion around the release of new music”. They also had the hope it would “reduce piracy” with the theory being that releasing all music on the same day (despite different time zones) would make people less inclined to illegally upload/download the music they would otherwise have to impatiently wait a few extra days for.
Nevertheless, in the instantaneous age in which we all find ourselves in, synchronising all releases to the same day seemed to be a move of common sense if nothing else. Rolling Stone reported that RIAA chairman and CEO Cary Sherman stated “More than ever, the music industry has become global… Geographic lines are often irrelevant to digital marketing strategies and fans’ expectations of instant access to their favorite music. This change will be good for fans and good for the business”. IFPI CEO Frances Moore said “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”. There is even a whole section on the New Music Friday website devoted to quotes of those who love New Music Fridays. Make of it what you will that there are only three quotes currently on there and they were made by a) Andrew Kronfeld, president, global marketing, Universal Music Group, b) Edgar Berger, chairman and CEO, international, Sony Music Entertainment and c) Stu Bergen, president, international, Warner Recorded Music, who all stand united that the move will be good for the artist, the industry and not least the fans.
But before you go thinking this all occurred out of the goodness of the industry’s heart, there are people who disagree, strongly.
The boss-man of UK’s largest Indie, Beggar’s Group, Martin Mills said “It astounds me that the major labels are not listening to their customers, their interface with their artists’ fans. 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”.
And he wasn’t alone in his sentiments. Martin Goldschmidt, founder and Managing Director of Indie Label Cooking Vinyl, who were at the forefront of offering artists innovative services-only deals, stated that the consultation of the music industry to which the IFPI refers was “only a ‘consultation’ if the new dictionary definition of ‘to consult’ is ‘to tell to f*ck off’”. While Goldschmidt did agree that having one day on which global music would be released made perfect sense, he expressed concerns that Friday wasn’t the right day for it, something which Mills reiterated; “it seems to me to be crazy to throw away one of the trading week’s two peaks, and the ability to restock and rectify errors before the week’s second peak”.
As for piracy, I see no reason why those who are accustomed to never purchasing music and having it when it becomes available online (i.e. always before it is due to be released), would change their ways because the start of the weekend signalled the time when everyone else would get new music (that they presumably already had). A singular day may strive to reduce the number of ‘pirates’ who go out their way to leak music before it is due to be released from doing so, but I doubt it. I am of the view that people should be paid for their work, so I hope it does reduce it, but I have a feeling it is going to take a lot more movement on the industry’s part than a shift in the day of the week on which they do things they want to do, in the way they want them to be done. The sceptical among us might suggest that as long as there are ‘pirates’ leaking music, there will be people (less culpable ‘pirates’?) willing to take it for free, and for those willing, perhaps the proverbial pirate ship, has sailed on the matter – Friday or not. Perhaps it has simply tidied up the diaries of ‘pirates’ the world over, from multiple release dates to beat, to one day – a Friday. But who knows? If you can wait though, there will be stats to argue both ways till kingdom come very shortly, I’m sure.
Nevertheless, whether you think it’s a great idea, the worst idea ever or you couldn’t really care less, it looks like New Music Fridays has yet to cause the excitement or terror either camps had hoped or predicted.
No matter which side of the fence you are on, perhaps Noel Gallagher rather surprisingly, can unite us all with the musing that, “Unfortunately it won’t make shit albums any better, will it? They’ll still sound shit on a f***ing Friday”.