time to change the way we view music and the arts

Get IN on the global street date or DIE.

Calendar pages

A single day can make a world of difference…

“Calendar Pages”, Online Image, “JosiahDWalker.com-Someday”, 14 October 2014
< http://www.josiahdwalker.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/calendar-pages.png >

Perhaps “die” is a bit strong of a consequence to say but, as a gentle reminder to those who have been reading here for a while, and for those that are relatively new, let it be known titles and headlines are a favorite spot to place thematic puns and wordplay.

In any case, the dilemma over establishing a global street release date is the question the world over (as it pertains to music) is currently tossing back and forth. Notable organizations like the  International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), have even spoken out to offer their “whole picture based” input as far as whether this idea is one of mostly beneficial consequence or not.

The prospect of an international field of business, like music, considering an across the board change, is not something seen so often. Countries from around the world comment and give input on things relating to this universal art form and its accompanying business matters, sure. Still, there are not even that many umbrella elements within music available for uniform evaluation and capable of being brought into the light for discussion without mass confusion and frustration. That said, it is not as though this proposal has been put forth completely absent of financial trepidation and debate over confusing data and projected figures, as has been outlined during the many conversations and the IFPI’s own conference held last month, to specifically address this concept.

While there’s no need to rehash the fact that there is very clearly the two camps — one pro and one anti — there are also two interesting potential facets to the idea of a new global street date that deserve illumination, as they might just set in motion, an entirely new change and next stage of (de)evolution for “what it means to be indie”, perhaps even initiating a lasting ripple effect on preferred trends of the music industry for years to come.

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A few notes of context first, as reported by Billboard in a follow up piece they posted on 6 October 2014:

Some of the sentiment from the U.S. going against the ate change has comes from larger bodies of influence:

“…In addition to independent record store coalitions, who were the first to publicly oppose such a move, the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), the U.S. independent label organization, and Target, the giant discounter, are also publicly opposing a Friday street date…”

The U.S. has been accustomed to the early week release day of Tuesday (#NewMusicTuesday) within its own borders; so much so that the day’s profit-pertinence has blanketed most current media related distribution:

“…the Tuesday street date used in the U.S. has been in place for a couple of decades. Since the music industry began the concept of releasing new records on the same day, other entertainment software industries — books, DVDs, and video games — have adopted Tuesday as the day to issue their new titles as well. So in the U.S., consumers know that Tuesday is the day to go to stores for new releases, making it the third largest sales volume day of the week, after Friday and Saturday…”

What’s worth attaching to this second point of note, is the fact that the U.S. is one of the top figures of music as an export, as explained back in April of this year, by UK music licensing organization, PPL:

“..[The U.S.] is one of only three net exporters of music in the world (along with the [UK] and Sweden).”

Yet, despite this position of stability, (relative to the overall fluidity of the music industry (and its continually changing revenue streams), one would imagine that adoption of a new street date would be an easier transition than perhaps for another nation whose music export, import and consumption fall far below that of these three. This is where the intertwining of business decisions that affect other media related, but nonetheless separate, products seems to have left the U.S. in a weaker position regarding consequence of choice, than they ought to be in, given the significant amount of U.S. music taken up by other countries, rather than vice versa. Music itself might a serious bedfellow to both film and games but the people who manage the distribution and promotion of the latter two are not the same individuals reserving shelf space and hitting the green light for a sale date for the soundtrack to accompany those items.

 

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The second piece of food for thought on turning New Music Tuesday to New Music Friday, comes off of a comment made by Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz during a Billboard interview back in June. Wentz’s comment was revisited this morning, in a piece promoting the video accompanying the band’s newest single, “Immortals.” The song is featured with the movie, “Big Hero 6″ being released in the US by Walt Disney Animation Studios next month, on 7 November.

 

“I feel like you can just put out whatever and as long as it’s authentic to who you are. It can be singles or an EP, it’s just whatever you want.”

 

Wentz, in that quote, may have been referring to the content and style of music, as opposed to the business side of the release process, as he didn’t say, “You can put out whatever, whenever.” What though, is to stop some in the industry from indeed taking on that very mindset and that very course of action?

 

Thinking hypothetically but plausibly…

 

Bands and individual artists are already neck deep in the many ways of DIY-culture, where “you are your own boss.” Artists of all levels of fame have dealt in the self-run system; from the neighborhood garage band, to A-list established acts like Weezer, coming, going and then returning to major label partnerships.

 

Initially, this idea might sound moot if DIY is already a method in motion. The whole idea of do-it-yourself and not having to adhere to established expectations or regulations in the same way as someone else restricted to corporate needs is already there, right? This is true but, what would the landscape of the music industry look like if after this new global street date were to take affect, in order to have more, or total, control of how much or, (for the sake of this conversation) when, to release music, most groups decided to defect from the remaining major label/management/A&R/PR hierarchies of the world? Suddenly the traditional business systems and traditional positions might take an even bigger and more abruptly initiated hit — something for which that the music industry may or may not be prepared.

 

There is the aspect of where and how this sudden surge in “artists-turned-independent” would physically place their releases if the remaining corporate elements, like Target, for example, were to establish and hold a willingness only to provide shelf space to artists working with traditional bodies that would be following all the universal rules and expectations, like this potential new street date. However, the continuing flourishing of digital access and digital release (which doesn’t always match up with physical street date release as it is now anyway), shows that artists are willing to forego most, if not all, physical release and the subsequent distribution thereof, altogether, knowing their music can see reach the fans they seek.

 

In this way, if enough artists were unhappy with the impact of a fixed date, the industry could take an even steeper shift toward combined embrace of the indie/digital relationship. Conversely, independent music retailers that want to stay relevant and avoid a complete turn to that scenario, could adapt and push for a return to tangible, grassroots music discovery if those same artists wanted to have a real world place to put their music —whether it be a full LP, EP, random single, B-side or “one-off tour van mix tape” on any day of the week. That second scenario might even see a music industry that would have the unexpected revival of appeal for brick and mortar music shopping. Before you know it, the entire face of what it would mean to be indie would move away from an implication of “being off the majority’s grid” to “being the grid itself,” wherein businesses and artists both, opt for the majority to be about organic control of material and organic discovery in real space; a perfect compromise of the eclectic access offered by the web and the face to face, exposure and “education” provided by the passionate gate keepers of old.

 

Side note: Given the sentiments and matching reports now surfacing regarding Sony/ATV’s objective for departure from traditional PRO’s ASCAP and BMI, (so as to “open direct negotiations with digital and broadcast outlets,” according to Hypebot), this idea of individual and direct control becoming the new and 99% norm, might not quite so hypothetical…

 

So much potential, all from something as innocent as the desire to move a pin on the music industry’s calendar…

Thoughts?

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