Today is Friday, and we all know what that means: It’s the end of the work week! It’s time to make weekend plans. You can check out new movies in theaters. Oh, and football is back, so that means there are games on Saturday and Sunday. And you’ll also have time to catch up with all of your favorite TV shows on Netflix and Hulu.
Have I forgotten anything? I don’t think so — oh wait, new albums come out today, too, right?
For three years, “New Music Friday” has been a weekly record industry-sanctioned quasi-holiday. The release date was moved from Tuesday in 2015 to curb piracy — before then, there were different release dates in different countries around the world, which enabled a music fan in the UK (where new albums came out every Monday) to upload and illegally share that music with fans who otherwise had to wait another day or so. It was decided that albums should instead come out at the same time everywhere, right before the weekend, which data supposedly showed that most music fans preferred.
The problem is that releasing music on Friday is bad because it devalues new albums. Therefore, it’s time that we recognize this change was a mistake, and restore Tuesday as the proper “new music” day.
Back in 2015, brick-and-mortar record stores and independent labels complained about moving the release date, claiming that selling the latest albums at the end rather than the middle of the week would make it more difficult to keep shelves stocked with product as well as stymie the promotion of lesser-known artists ahead of the weekend memory hole. When albums came out on Tuesday, stores could order more stock ahead of the weekend rush for an especially popular record, whether it was Garth Brooks’ Ropin’ The Wind, Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion I and II,, or Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP. And smaller labels could rely on reviews published that week to keep a critically acclaimed sleeper album in the news at least through the weekend.
Now that the record industry has shifted focus to streaming, the concerns of brick-and-mortar stores are essentially ignored. Why cater to old-fashioned retailers when Spotify and Apple Music can brand “New Music Friday” for their latest playlists?