Saturday, February 28, 2015

Chart Show move isn't really about the Chart Show

Surely what's really important in the story about a possible move of the Radio One chart show from Sunday to whenever is less the move itself, and more the reason behind it:

From summer 2015, new music will be released at 00:01 on Friday.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) hopes an aligned global release day will reduce piracy and "re-ignite excitement".

The Official Charts Company confirmed it would "also be looking to move the UK chart announcement day".
Yes, every record will henceforward be released at the same time all over the world, to, you know, reduce piracy (somehow) and... sorry, what was that phrase again?
"re-ignite excitement"
Let's leave aside the whole question of how this would actually work when you've got situations like Charli XCX's Sucker, which came out in the UK this month but had already had its US release back in 1972 or something.

Instead, let's just wonder what salary the people who came up with this idea are on. Faced with the structural decline of music purchasing, their big idea was not better records, or different records, or even records which came with flavours on them.

Oh, no. They actually believe that a person is more likely to be (a) excited by and (b) pay for a track if they know it's being released on a Friday at the same time only not because of timezone differences as "the rest of the world" by which we mean America really.

It's One Direction you've got to feel sorry for - imagine how popular they might have been had their first releases not been dragged down by humdrum Monday release dates, eh?

Naturally, there's a lengthier expression of this preposterous position:
Frances Moore, the IFPI chief executive, said: “In today’s globalised world, it makes no sense for new music to be released to fans on different days of the week.

“We view this as a tremendous opportunity to breathe new life back into the release of music. Friday has a compelling logic to it, at the start of the weekend when fans most want to listen to and buy music.”
Sometimes you wonder if the people who work at places like the IFPI have ever listened to music ever.

- Hey, Tom, I've got the new Stibby Jolenenza record here, do you want to listen to it?
- Margaret, are you insane? It's only Wednesday. I'd have thought a big music fan like you would want to wait until Friday evening, when proper music fans start listening to music

There's also that odd suggestion that music fans buy records at weekends. Now, when I was younger, maybe there'd be something to that - until Saturday came round, hopping on a bus and heading off to Woolworths or Rounder in town wasn't that easy. Now, though, whoever the poor benighted fifteen year-old who is my equivalent is, all they have to do is press their phone's purchase button.

(Oh, god, knowing what an asshat I could be at fifteen, it's possible that the 2015 fifteen year-old me equivalent is refusing to get a phone on some vague point of principle. Just get one, 2015 fifteen year-old me equivalent. It's not like anyone likes you because of your stance. And for god's sake, lose the 2015 Tears For Fears t-shirt equivalent.)

Paul McGowan, chief executive of Hilco Capital, which owns high street retailer HMV, said it was “a totally logical move”.

He said: “Quite simply, new music should hit the high street when people hit the street. New Music Fridays will get new releases to fans when they most want to buy them.”
Obviously, Hilco know enough about retail to have managed to salvage some sort of high-street presence for HMV, but I'd be intrigued to know who this demographic is - who are so hungry for new experience they don't want a record that came out four days ago, but who are able to wait long enough to go into town and buy it rather than download it straight to their phones.

Still, as an indication of where the thinking of the IFPI is these days, it's a useful guide. And for those remaining physical record stores, the day for the assistant looking confused when you ask for a new CD is moving from Mondays to Fridays. Make a note in the Filofax you're probably still using.


Robin Carmody said...

Records in the UK used to be released on Fridays anyway, late in the weekly chart cycle - The Jam largely changed that by releasing on Mondays so they could get number one debuts when they were virtually unknown.

So maybe it did make more sense in the physical era. But the key words to that sentence are the last four.

Robin Carmody said...

(oops - I mean that number one debuts were virtually unknown in 1980-82, not that The Jam themselves were)

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

I didn't know that it was Paul Weller who caused the shift to Mondays...

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