Picture this – you are laying in bed, dreaming away and then, you are sadly brought back to reality as your alarm starts to ring. You turn it off and lay in bed for a minute, not wanting to get up and start your day, but at least it is Friday, right? You go through your plans for the day in your head while you try to find the strength to get out of bed, but all of a sudden you remember that your favorite artist released a new album today. Yes! Finally a reason worth getting up. You open Spotify to search for the album and come across a playlist called “New Music Friday” and think to yourself – “What the heck is New Music Friday?”
In the grand scheme of the music industry, New Music Friday is a fairly new concept.
Most music lovers know it as a playlist or feature on their streaming service of choice, but it is so much more than that. The idea for New Music Friday was introduced in early 2015 by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which is a worldwide organization that embodies the voice of the recording industry, through the representation of 1300 record companies across the globe. IFPI introduced New Music Friday as a worldwide release day for music. At the time, music was being released on Mondays in France and the United Kingdom, Tuesdays in the United States and Canada, and Fridays in Australia and Germany – needless to say, the industry was in need of some consistency. But the idea for the global release day was introduced in hopes of it cutting down on music piracy. Moving the release date to Fridays also made sense for the mass-consumption of music. For the same reason that movies are released on Fridays, consumers are more likely to buy music on weekends then in the middle of the week.
Amidst the announcement of New Music Friday, a lot of independent record labels feared that the idea of a worldwide release day would mean that their acts would be overshadowed by more mainstream artists.
Not long after IFPI announced the implementation of New Music Friday, Martin Mills, who is the Founder and Chairman of Beggars Group (a collective of independent labels such as 4AD, Matador Records, Rough Trade Records, and more), said he feared that the release day shift would favor mainstream artists over more niche artists. Mills said that he thought it would further marginalize the independent music sphere, instead of giving it the chance to potentially become the new age of mainstream music.
New Music Friday was officially born on July 10th, 2015, so one may be wondering, has anything changed since its inception?
In terms of piracy, the numbers have not changed too much. According to a study conducted by MUSO, a company that collects piracy and infringement data for entertainment companies and rights owners, there has been a 6-percent decrease in music piracy. The biggest decline has been seen among desktop devices (computers), as music fans have turned to pirating music more on their mobile devices. With the rise of streaming services, websites and applications that allow fans to rip songs directly from streaming services have surpassed downloading as one of the most popular ways to illegally download music.
Despite reservations for how New Music Friday would affect the independent music sector, it has actually done a lot to help it. Since the shift, streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music have created playlists like “New Music Friday” and “Release Radar” that are updated every Friday with new releases across the entire industry, from indie rock to rap to mainstream pop. Streaming services have also created “Daily Mix” playlists and “Discover Weekly” playlists to help showcase new, and possibly lesser known artists.
While New Music Friday was created as a way to hopefully cut down on music piracy, it has given fans the chance to enjoy music on the same day, rather than waiting three or four extra days to buy an album by their favorite artists.
It is a great opportunity for fans to listen together, but also connect and share new releases with each other across the internet. It was created with business intentions, but at the end of the day, it also represents how music, especially new releases, brings fans together regardless of where they are geographically.
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