It’s been a while since we’ve covered something purely business related, but this topic is too big to ignore, and will likely cause some major shifting in all facets of the industry. You’re probably already familiar with last month’s monolithic industry news that the IFPI has agreed, on behalf of labels worldwide, to initiate a ‘Global Release Date’ of Friday for music releases.
The argument, coming from IFPI chief Frances Moore in Billboard, is that “Music fans live in the digital world of today. Their love for new music doesn’t recognise national borders. They want music when it’s available on the internet — not when it’s ready to be released in their country. An aligned global release day puts an end to the frustration of not being able to access releases in their country when the music is available in another country.”
However, as Billboard also points out, there are those who hold strongly to the belief that this shift is a negative one for the music industry. Beggars Group chairman Marin Mills said, “I fear this move will also lead to a market in which the mainstream dominates, and the niche, which can be tomorrow's mainstream, is further marginalized. I fear it will further cement the dominance of the few -- and that is exactly what it is intended to do."
So while on the surface, it is a nice idea to appease music fans, potentially decrease piracy, and make perhaps lots more money, there are downsides, especially for the ever-shrinking chance of success for indie artists.
Just last week, PIAS — and large indie distributor in the UK — came out with an extremely compelling exploration of the new GRD, and its implications on indie music. They note of course the benefits, especially cutting-down on piracy, however as Mills notes, this doesn’t bode well for new and indie artists.
PIAS explains this by exemplifying the concept; “Look at the way [PIAS] works with Agnes Obel. We released it in Benelux and France first, and based on the success we had there we moved it to another country.”
“There are many of these stories,” PIAS continues, “This strategy means you can sign something in January, release it in March with no fanfare, work out it’s doing well in, let’s say, Ireland, try to push it there, then based on that result maybe try to convince the Scottish or the Spanish to push it.
It is about being careful with your money.
But if a global chart reigns supreme, development artists and local artists will have to get used to hearing the voice of America, everywhere. Big money, big global campaigns, will dominate.
This can only help the blockbusters become even bigger, for a longer period of time, in more markets.”