Don’t forget the little guys

On July 10, the music industry changed its practices by implementing a new music release day – Friday – after more than 25 years of releasing music on Tuesday in the United States.

This new standard now globalizes the release date of new albums. Industry officials polled music consumers in eight countries when choosing a worldwide standard and found 68 percent of consumers prefer Friday or Saturday releases.

However, while consumers seem to be pleased with this change, some industry professionals are not. Small independent music stores say that moving releases from Tuesday to Friday crowds stores that are already busy on weekends and takes traffic away from a slow day that received a spike in sales. This also convolutes how businesses will schedule in-store live music performances to complement new releases.

Contrary to what you may assume, considering I am a Millennial, I still buy a significant amount of physical music – vinyl, to be exact (Believe it or not, they are still printing new records! Pitchfork wrote an excellent report on the impact of vinyl's recent resurgence that is worth a read). While at my local record store, on a Friday interestingly enough, I was talking shop with the owner and asked for his thoughts on the change. He told me that while music will release on Fridays, vinyl will have its own “record release day” on the Tuesday after the global release.

From a consumer perspective, it seems appealing to me: I can stream the album on Spotify (because I am still a Millennial, after all) when it releases digitally, decide if it is worth my investment and buy the record on Tuesday. However, the shop owner pointed to how confusing it could be for some, and record labels don’t seem to have any incentive to inform consumers properly or work with small independent shops for a music release solution that makes them and consumers happy.

This is a misstep because the music industry is not putting enough effort toward a subset of consumers who are invested in their products and they are not willing to support the little guys to build up the whole industry.

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As we continue to implement change in our own industry, we need to be acutely aware of how what we do affects everyone, from the biggest players to the smallest storefront owners and manufacturers, as well as our consumers. This doesn’t mean we resist change but that any change we implement is smart change, not unlike the industry’s position on alternative biofuels. We cannot forget any of these groups if we want the industry to work well together and succeed.

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