Friday Global Releases: ‘Terribly disruptive’ or ‘compelling logic?’

The IFPI’s announcement that Friday is the new official weekly Global Release Day for the music industry has pleased some, and angered others.

Writing in a blog post explaining the change, IFPI CEO Frances Moore argues that there was “no credible alternative to Friday” but that “compelling logic” suggested worldwide releases should fall on the day.

Her stance has been backed up by some significant independent rights-holders contacted by MBW.

Germany’s release day already falls on a Friday. The MD of leading local indie Embassy of Music, Konrad von Loehneyen, moved to reassure his UK and US counterparts that the day can work well for their businesses.

“I have been aware of these discussions with the IFPI for almost a year,” he said. “GSA has [employed] the Friday Release Date for almost ten years and it has proven to be fairly beneficial. People have more time on Weekends to browse – digitally or at retail – through new releases.”

“Germany has employed the friday release date for almost ten years and it has proven to be fairly beneficial.”

Konrad von loehneyen, Embassy of music

The IFPI says that it consulted with 1,300 labels across the world over the change, as well as leading retailers and artist groups.

But some rights-holders, especially in the UK market – which now has to move from its traditional Monday release window – say they are very concerned over both the manner of IFPI’s consultation process and the decision to press ahead with a Friday release.

The decision to move to Friday came despite key retail groups such as the UK’s ERA – as well as independent reps like AIM and IMPALA – pushing for earlier in the week.

“We were barely consulted, more informed, that this was happening,” Lohan Presencer, CEO of Ministry Of Sound, told MBW.

“We don’t agree with the change, it’s terribly disruptive for multiple parts of our business, adds nothing, removes a key sales opportunity and we believe that is a view shared by many in the UK industry.

“As far as we can tell this is an initiative driven by the US majors, it doesn’t even necessarily have the support of some of their UK counterparts. Yet again major biased initiatives are driven through our business without proper consideration of their impact, we are not surprised.”

“We don’t agree with this change. we were barely consulted. It’s terribly disruptive and removes a key sales opportunity.”

Lohan Presencer, Ministry Of Sound

Cooking Vinyl founder Martin Goldschmidt, whose label works with artists including Billy Bragg and The Prodigy, agreed. He said: “That was only a ‘consultation’ if the new dictionary definition of ‘to consult’ is ‘to tell to f*ck off’.

“The independent community represented by Impala, AIM, and WIN, welcomed a global release day but gave a clear message that Monday would be much better than Friday for reasons previously explained by Martin Mills, but the three majors wanted Friday.”

He added: “The majors are trying to leverage business advantage in a number of areas like this, including how streaming counts towards the album charts and many more.”

“This was only a ‘consultation’ if the new dictionary definition of ‘to consult’ is ‘to tell to f*ck off’.”

Martin Goldschmidt, Cooking Vinyl

It would not be fair to suggest all independents are anti-Friday, though. Mike Batt, Chairman of Dramatico, said: “A global release day has the potential to build additional excitement around the release of new music. Artists today communicate with their fans on a global scale through platforms such as Twitter.

“To be able to promote their new albums and singles to fans worldwide simultaneously will be a great advantage. Fans are also more likely to be online and in-store on the weekend, so it makes sense to have our new releases out on Friday and ready for them.”

The digitally-minded in the industry seem unanimous in their support. Spotify, Rdio, Napster have all given the thumbs up. Scott Cohen, founder and VP of distributor The Orchard said: “I’m delighted with the decision to create a single global release day for music and for that date to be a Friday.

“Adhering to national release dates in a connected world makes no sense anymore. But organizing our business around the consumer makes perfect sense. The weekend should be about fun and discovering new music. And since this is what consumers already do it feels great to give them just what they want.”

“It makes sense to have our new releases out on Friday.”

Mike Batt, Dramatico

Added Anders Engström, Chairman of Swedish independent labels association, SOM and Jonas Sjöström, CEO of Playground Music Scandinavia AB: “SOM supports a coordinated release day as it makes a lot of sense for markets like ours. With the dominance of digital channels [in Scandinavia], a single release day for all of Europe and the US at least is needed.”

Beggars Group boss Martin Mills has already made his feelings on the process plainly known: he said in a speech earlier this week that the new release day was “crazy” and that the decision to move away from a Monday release “throws away one of the trading week’s two peaks, and the ability to re-stock and rectify errors before the week’s second peak”.

When MBW asked what he made of Frances Moore’s claim that there was no “credible alternative” to Friday, he replied: “Really? Monday or Tuesday are perfectly credible alternatives – why would they not be? What’s not credible about them? The arguments in favour of Friday are, in my view, way less persuasive than those in favour of an earlier in the week day

“We’re talking about retail here, so who best to listen to about customer buying habits than… retailers?”

Mills, a shareholder in growing independent retail brand Rough Trade, believes that the push for Friday comes with an agenda from the major labels to hurt fully-owned music businesses.

“If the big record labels want to kill off physical retail, they’re doing a great job. [This move] could be the difference between survival and bankruptcy for some specialist retailers.”

Martin Mills, Beggars Group

“If the big record labels want to kill off physical retail, they’re doing a great job – the difference in traffic in the first part of the week could be the difference between survival and bankruptcy for specialist retailers,” he said, quoting Universal boss Lucian Grainge who once said: “Putting the traditional, transactional model behind us is key to the future.”

Mills told MBW that he’d heard Japan may refuse the new release date and continue to issue records on a Wednesday.

“Interesting that not a single one of the IFPI press release quotes was from a major: funny, that…”

Not a major, but a major’s representative was involved: the RIAA, the trade body for the major labels in the US, welcomed IFPI’s move.

Cary Sherman, chairman and CEO, RIAA, said: “There’s a strong consensus for a singular global release day. Consumer research and feedback has informed the decision that Friday is the optimal choice. More than ever, the music industry has become global, and we represent international companies marketing international acts in multiple markets.

“Research and feedback has informed the decision that friday is optimal.”

CaRy Sherman, RIAA

“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.”

Meanwhile, larger physical chain retailers around Europe including HMV, Italy’s Mondadori Retail and Spain’s El Corte Inglés gave their blessing to Friday.

Marcus Nolte, product manager, entertainment, German retailer Media-Saturn said: “Media Saturn is very pleased to support the proposal for a global release day. The move to a Friday release day has worked very well for music fans and retailers in Germany, creating a surge of interest around new releases just before the weekend when consumers want new music.

“Our experience has been that the move can be made smoothly and successfully for all concerned.”Music Business Worldwide

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