Sunday, October 25, 2015

Friday On My Mind

The American music industry is finally releasing records on Fridays, something I've been wanting to see for a long time.  This happened because digital downloading and the desire to get new music at the start of the weekend has necessitated a global release date standard.  
From 1989 until July 2015, when the change took effect, American record companies released new recordings on Tuesdays, largely because shipments of new releases would arrive at some record stores on a Monday morning  but would be a day late at others.  The Tuesday standard assured that all record stores would have the new releases ready to sell all at once.  But it didn't necessarily sit well with music fans.  Think about it.  When are you more likely to buy and listen to a new record release - Friday, when you have the whole weekend to listen to it as many times as you like, or Tuesday, when you have to go to bed early to get up for school or work on Wednesday morning?  Fewer people are likely to show up at the record store or find the time to download a new release on a Tuesday, just as fewer people are likely to show up to vote on Tuesday - but that's another issue.
Some observers are afraid that the change may harm already-struggling brick-and-mortar record stores, because the global nature of the Internet and the desire by tech-savvy kids to hear new music as soon as it's available anywhere.  Indeed, not everyone is pleased with this change.  Independent record-store retailer Marc Weinstein, who co-founded Los Angeles'  Amoeba Music store,  complained to National Public Radio (NPR) about the impact it would have on his business.  
"It's not something we would choose to have happen," he said. "I mean, it's a logistic nightmare on a lot of levels . . ..  It gave us an opportunity to get a bump in the middle of the week when a lot of people would come in on a Tuesday, which normally wouldn't be a busy day."  He complained to NPR about having to change advertising and scheduling for his employees as a result.
Someone should have pointed out to Weinstein that the British recording trade used to release new recordings on Fridays back in the sixties and seventies, before it switched to Monday releases.  Check Mark Lewisohn's book on the Beatles' recording sessions; the British release dates for their LPs, EPs and singles were all Fridays, with two exceptions - their third single, "From Me To You,"  which was inexplicably released on April 11, 1963, a Thursday, and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, released on June 1, 1967, also a Thursday, though the latter release date can be easily explained.  The Beatles were making a statement about their groundbreaking music on that album by releasing Sgt. Pepper on the first of the month.  And, even though the Beatles may not have been aware of this fact, June 1 is also the first day of meteorological summer in the Northern Hemisphere, so whether or not they knew it, the release of Sgt. Pepper on June 1 (Friday, June 2 in the U.S.) kicked off the Summer of Love in a very literal way.  (For the record, U.S. record release dates were mostly on Mondays or Wednesdays from the 1960s through the late 1980s.)
I think brick-and-mortar record stores will survive this change just fine.  And I should be happy with the change, given that I usually work on Tuesdays, now that I can go to my nearest record store (I'm old-school) at the start of the weekend to check out the new releases. Except for two things:  My nearest record store is quite a long way away, and I buy few if any current records.
There is one new record I'm hoping to buy soon, though.  I'll have details on that . . . later. :-) 

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