It may well seem relatively inconsequential to many, but you might have noticed recently (from July 10th to be exact) that albums are now being released on a Friday.
That brings to an end the long tradition of beginning the working week in the UK and diluting some of the drudgery of heading back to your desk by sinking your teeth into the much-anticipated release you have had your eye on for months.
Instead, it could be argued, the arrival of a new album – however highly lauded it may be – could risk fading into the euphoric chaos that comes from doing tools for two days and launching yourself into whatever hedonism is planned for the following evening.
Okay, this is an extremely generalised way to look at it. The proportion of people working the ‘typical’ nine-to-five, 40-hour week is at an all time low. In fact, some reading this may think it is superficial to assume the value an avid music listener holds over a new record could be so affected by a formulaic working schedule. But chances are there will be a few intended purchases that slip through the net.
On the other hand, could it be the case that unveiling new releases just before the weekend could help force some kind of physical shopping revival? Probably not. The hardcore will go out and buy that LP they simply must have their hands on whatever day of the week it is. Rain or shine, come what may. And the serial streamers, staunch pirates and i-Tunes addicts are no doubt already lost at sea.
So why the big change? Apparently streaming as an ever-gropwing scythe in the midriff of the music industry and premieres via music sites much like ours (oops), have proved to be one of the deciding factors.
You see Monday releases have only ever been so steeped in tradition in the UK. In the US (since 1989) it has been Tuesday and in Australia it was already Friday – effectively meaning full albums could be streamed, (now illegally) burned and made available for physical purchase online days before their official date.
As a result, ‘New Music Fridays’ – as coined by International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (no, we’d never heard of them either) – have been born to produce one universal standard for the arrival of new music. This is a change that has re-jigged the working weeks for labels, artists, PR firms and perhaps most drastically, record stores.
There have been mixed reactions to this move, ranging from hysterical claims it is one of the most sacrilegious events since Madonna ‘decided Jesus was black’, right through to those who may well benefit from setting a bit of cash aside come the weekend for something other than accruing sorosis. Then there are those who despite being keen physical consumers, just don’t really care.
Either way, the reality is that this change in release day will do very little to reverse the decline that has been taking place in the albums market on a chronic level for years. Whatever ideas of grandeur are used to justify it. Oh well. Happy Friday!