The ripple effects of Beyonce‘s self-titled surprise album are still being felt eight months on. Indeed, beyond elevating the star’s career to even loftier levels of greatness, it appears the visual LP – which is double Platinum in the US – looks set to impact the way music is released…globally.
Billboard are reporting that the set, which was released simultaneously around the world on December 13th, is being cited (alongside piracy) as the catalyst for a game-changing shift in how music is serviced to retail. For, after several decades of regionalised roll-outs for albums, major labels are now collectively leaning towards a new system that will see music released everywhere at the same time.
An excerpt from the feature:
The change was spurred in part by Beyonce’s most recent surprise release, as well as piracy from Down Under.
The music industry is on the verge of adopting a global street date that could see all countries issuing new releases on a Friday, probably beginning a year from now, in July 2015, according to industry sources.
While some sources say its a done deal as far as the major labels and the IFPI and RIAA are concerned, other sources insist the issue has yet to be fully decided. The main reason why the industry is moving toward a global street date — instead of letting each territory pick the day that they feel is best for their respective markets, which is the way it works now — is to cut down on global piracy.
With Australia now having a Friday street date, digital piracy begins almost immediately around the globe, as the new release is shared across the web before fans in the U.K. (which has a Monday street date) or the U.S. (which has a Tuesday street date) have a chance to purchase the music legally.
With varying street dates in different markets, the labels are able move their artists around in order to take advantage of marketing opportunities that coincide with the changed street date. Now, labels can still do that on the week of release, but will have less opportunity to schedule a high-profile appearance on the release date itself.
While sources say that digital music service providers like the Friday street date, not all physical merchants have given the change their blessing; some indie labels and indie merchants are opposed to having the global street date on Friday.
We sincerely hope this comes to fruition as a shake-up has been long overdue. The current system is entirely outdated and essentially feeds the monster that has become internet piracy. It’s just not feasible to expect maximum returns on music when it’s been made available in another region days earlier. For example, in the UK, songs are often given a six-week run on radio before officially hitting iTunes. Yes, six weeks. Expecting an audience that have increasingly become accustomed to an “on-demand” lifestyle to wait for an official release (on mass) isn’t as plausible as it perhaps should be. Times are a’changing and the music industry needs to adapt accordingly.
It would appear the proposed switch is more album-focal at present. However, fingers crossed, it’ll include singles in the long run.
Clearly, marketing and promotion is the biggest concern for labels (i.e. how will artists manage to be everywhere at once?) Yet, from where we’re standing, it’s a necessary challenge the industry needs to throw at itself. Perhaps then we’ll see the creative release roll-outs that the business has been starving for for so long.