Global Release Day streamlines music access

By Ben Kowalski Copy Editor

A new, globally aligned release day has been set for the music industry, according to a Feb. 26 online announcement by The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

     Currently, music is released on Tuesdays in the U.S. and on Mondays in the U.K. and France. However, the IFPI plans to implement Global Release Day starting this summer, condensing worldwide music releases to the end of the workweek. According to the announcement, the IFPI has been preparing since last summer to streamline all new music releases to the first minute of the day local time on Fridays. 

     The Global Release Day announcement follows several months of discussions between retailers, record companies and music unions, including the Australian Music Retailers Association, the Entertainment Retailers Association, Music Business Association, the IFPI itself—which represents roughly 1,300 record labels worldwide—and online music companies such as Rdio, Spotify and iTunes.

     As a music fan and consumer, it is extremely frustrating when a release I’m excited for comes out in another part of the world before its U.S. release. At that point, I am forced to choose between waiting for the album to see the light of day in the U.S. and probing the deeper crevices of the Internet for a less-than-reputable download.              

     The announcement listed multiple reasons for the move to Global Release Day but focused on potential benefits to music consumers. The IFPI cited research by global marketing research company TNS, which revealed that 68 percent of music consumers prefer music to be released at the end of the week.

     Frances Moore, CEO of IFPI, issued a statement further explaining the benefits of a uniform release day.

     “Music fans live in the digital world of today,” Moore said in the Feb. 26 statement. “Their love for new music doesn’t recognize national borders. They want music when it’s available on the Internet—not when it’s ready to be released in their country.”

     Of course, online piracy is one of the forces driving the IFPI’s move to Global Release Day because it will “narrow the gap on piracy by making it less likely that consumers will go to pirate sites when they can’t get new releases in their country, helping channel revenues back to the legitimate rights owners,” according to the statement.

     Aside from the blatant illegality of pirating music—it is, after all, comparable to stealing a CD from Target—it is not the best way to consume music because the artists whose music is being pirated do not receive the compensation they deserve for their work. Because of this, online music piracy has the strongest impact on independent artists from outside the U.S. 

     Independent artists struggle plenty as it is, from promotion costs to equipment expenses, not to mention the staggering expense of studio time. If music by international independent artists was released on the same day in all countries, consumers of that music would have no reason to pirate at all and would be more likely to buy it on iTunes.

     Global Release Day is much more likely to help independent artists than hinder them. Their releases would arrive at the same time as mainstream releases, prompting fans to get their music all at once at the end of the week. The implementation of an aligned release day does not threaten mainstream artists, either. 

     At first it would seem that Global Release Day would bury both independent and mainstream artists. The day would make each artist’s release less noticeable in the expansive sea of Friday albums and could force them into Beyoncé-style surprise releases just to stand out from the masses, but this is not the case.

     The hype surrounding Drake’s new surprise mixtape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is not undeserved—all 17 of its tracks sat simultaneously on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart as of Feb. 25—but this success is a result of Drake’s loyal and enthusiastic

fan base, not of the album’s

surprise release.

     According to Billboard, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late sold 535,000 copies in its first week. This is a staggering figure, but not compared to Drake’s 2013 album, Nothing Was the Same, which sold 658,000 copies in its first week despite its release date being announced four full months

in advance.

     Surprise releases may be exciting for fans, but because Drake and other mainstream artists have large fan bases to support them in whatever they do, Global Release Day is in no way a danger to those artists’ sales figures.

     Ultimately, Global Release Day will benefit both musicians and fans. Everyone receiving the same music at the same time will restore a sense of wonder and excitement to the day on which new music is unveiled to fans and will restore a sense of awe for the music itself.