For the longest time new music was released by most record labels in the United States on Tuesday, which made a lot of sense. Tuesday is usually a slow news day, so it was (and still is) pretty easy to get the word out without having to wade through the noise, plus it gave record stores and journalists some time to get up to speed on the latest releases before the weekend. All that changed last July when the IFPI moved to a universal release day of Friday for its 1300 members based in 60 countries. Since then New Music Fridays has been a success on some levels, and not so much on others.
Sales aren’t as much of a concern for record labels these days as they once were, so New Music Fridays actually seems to be working, and it’s been readily adopted by the streaming services as well. That said, evidence suggests that labels that do rely on sales, especially indie labels, are suffering from the decision, having to deal with a busy Friday and relatively dead weekend when it comes to the promotional cycle.
For the major record labels, a single world-wide release date has actually been a good thing since subsidiaries in different parts of the world previously released new music on the day they felt was best for their home market. The problem was that it was easy to steal the thunder from a new release if it came out in India on Monday before it was released in the US or the UK on Friday. That’s all under control now as New Music Fridays has become the standard.
Friday also seems to work best just for the general psyche of people who want to discover new music, as it seems like more of that is done on the weekend than during the week, although precise information to that effect is sketchy at best.
That being said, New Music Fridays appears here to stay, and despite some promotional challenges, it looks like the industry is good with it.