Ever wonder why new albums are released on Fridays, or why they used to be released on Tuesdays? I definitely did - and it turns out the reasoning actually makes a lot of sense.
Before July 10, 2015, different countries had their own release dates for new music. In the U.S., "New Music Tuesdays" had been the standard since 1989. The standard was largely based on how shipping and stocking retail stores worked. Before 1989, albums were generally shipped over the weekend, and different retailers would get their stock throughout the day on Mondays. This meant that stores that got their shipments on Monday morning before they opened could stock a new album on Monday, while stores down the street might get the shipment in the middle of the day and have to wait until Tuesday to start selling the new album. This created an unfair advantage to stores who got their shipments first, as super fans would obviously buy the album from the store that had it stocked first. So, the recording industry, at least in the U.S., agreed upon a standard day, Tuesday, for music to be officially released.
This Tuesday standard was not shared internationally, however. Music in the U.K. and Canada was released on Mondays, and in Australia and Germany, albums were released on Fridays. Evidently, these differing standards didn't cause too much of a problem until recently - the switch to an international Friday standard didn't happen until July of 2015.
The issue with music being released on different days in different countries really arose with the popularity of the internet. Back when music consumption was based on physical sales, it was important for stores within one area or country to agree on a release date to give each retailer a fair chance at selling new albums. However, now that most people get their music on the internet, through downloads and especially streaming, music fans aren't so divided by physical boundaries - we're all here, together on the internet. It doesn't make sense to make fans wait for new music just because they live in a different country, and industry officials saw that.
The decision to make an international standard for album releases was in large part an effort to cut down on internet piracy. When the releases were still scattered, it was easier for fans to justify illegally downloading new music; if you lived somewhere like Australia, where the release day was Friday, you couldn't legally
get that new Beyonce
album on Monday like your Canadian friend could, but you could easily pirate it. Now that music is released on Fridays all over the world, fans don't have to sit through the frustration of knowing that a cool new album is available to some, but not all.
Of course, not everyone agreed that Friday would be the best option. People argued that changing the day to Friday would make things harder for independent or new artists. When the release date in the U.S. was Tuesday, there was time for journalists to cover both mainstream and smaller albums before the weekend came around, but now that all new music is released on Fridays, it's easier for developing artists to get drowned out by the established stars. Obviously, the dissenting voices were not enough to sway the general consensus, so New Music Friday stuck.
Ever since the rise of the peer-to-peer file sharing service Napster in 1999, the music industry has had to figure out how to deal with the issue of piracy. Streaming services like Spotify have created a model that allows artists to still get paid for their work (albeit very little - artists make around $.005 per stream) without sacrificing the availability and convenience of listening to music on the internet. Even with these streaming services, many artists still struggle to figure out how they can actually make a living in today's easy-access landscape. Across the board, digital and physical sales of albums are giving way to streaming, and artists are increasingly depending on revenue from touring and merchandise sales to sustain themselves.
The moral of the story is that as fans, we should make a point to support the artists we love in any way we can. This is especially important for developing artists who haven't found mainstream success like the Taylor Swift
s and Beyonces of the world. Go ahead, splurge on that T-shirt or concert ticket or limited edition vinyl. Without that kind of support, the only artists that can feasibly continue to make music are those who have reached superstardom. As great as they are, the world would definitely be a duller place if all we had were Top 40 artists.