Record Industry Sets Friday as New Global Release Day

Record Industry Sets Friday as New Global Release Day
A major change in the way we buy our music online and in stores is on the way, as the global recording industry has decided that Fridays will be the new standard street date for albums. After years of scattering street dates between various continents and countries, the switch to an internationally aligned system takes place this summer.

A press release from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which represents record labels worldwide, confirmed that the big shift made today (February 26) comes after months of discussion and research. The decision was made in part to combat piracy, as well as alleviate consumer frustration "when music fans in other parts of the world can access new releases before them." In the present model, for instance, the UK issues music on a Monday, while the North American release arrives on Tuesdays.

"Music fans live in the digital world of today," IFPI head Frances Moore said in a 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. 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."

From a fiscal standpoint, the IFPI has also selected the new global street date as Fridays and Saturdays are typically when consumer traffic, both in real life and online, is at its highest.

While Moore noted that switching international market practices will be "no small task," he's confident that retailers, record labels, chart publishers and artists will all get behind the new global release date.

There was debate on the switch, however, with some debating the day in question, and the concept of a street date shift itself.

According to the Department of Record Stores, which represents music stores in the U.S. and Canada, and the American Association of Independent Music, which represents indie labels in the U.S., had both vied for the IFPI to select the current North American Tuesday street date as the standard. A2IM's Rich Bengloff said, "There are a number of business hurdles that make Fridays less optimal for the United States marketplace, and independents in particular."

Beggars Group chairman Martin Mills also expressed concern, suggesting a Friday street date supports big business more than it does the independent record industry.

"It may well be in the interests of the small number of super-consolidated major labels to make the big become bigger, and appear to be even bigger," he had said ahead of today's official decision. "But I believe it's fundamentally against the interests of the rest of us, since it will reduce the oxygen available for exposure for artists whose natural format is the album."

The IFPI do have plenty of support, though, with the likes of international music store chain HMV, Rdio, Napster, Spotify and various record labels showing their support for the move.