Op-Ed: Release Day Blues – By Bob Lefsetz

Records are not movies. Not made for one weekend only. Music, when done right, is forever. And now that streaming services rule, the drop date, the release date, is just a moment in time.


Everything will change.


All the front-loaded publicity, all the inane coverage of the horse race, it’s irrelevant. Now it’s all about whether people listen and continue to listen.


Who cares if you sold a minimal number of albums in your first week. And 100,000 is minimal, few people do more. That’s essentially nobody. And so many albums sell the first week and never more. Now we want to know that you’ve got a fanbase that continues to listen and hopefully grows. The spin era is over, the data era is here.


We don’t want to know that you chummed up to writers. We’re sick of hype. We don’t care about the launch, but only the flight.


As for physical retail… I don’t want to hear another word about it. The fact that people love vinyl and CDs are a significant revenue source don’t impress me. Neil Young was right, most vinyl is a joke, it’s a just the CD master on a big plastic disc, it doesn’t sound any better. And focusing the music business on CDs is like focusing the computer business on floppy disks. Ever notice that essentially all software is downloaded, even if you pay for it? And that new computers have no disk drive? And that Apple, the world’s most profitable company, makes a habit of throwing out the old to focus on the new? How come we can’t take a lesson from that? How come we can’t embrace streaming and get people to pay? Hell, everybody already is streaming, on YouTube, so blame yourself for eviscerating the record business, that’s right, all you musicians bitching about Spotify, you’re just scaring paying customers away. Then again, no one ever said musicians were smart.


Just like those saying they sell CDs at gigs. It’s a SOUVENIR! No one is gonna play it, it’s a trophy they’ve acquired with your signature. It doesn’t have to be a compact disc.


So it’s good we’ve got a worldwide release schedule. It’s a worldwide business. This helps eradicate piracy. Once again, the music industry leads. HBO and film studios force people to steal to get what they want. Now the music business is moving into the future, embracing the concept of giving people what they want. As for giving retailers what they want, those bitching about Friday as opposed to Tuesday, isn’t the goal to eliminate the middlemen? Isn’t that what the internet does?


So start your engines. The music business has changed forever. You may not be able to get a truthful royalty statement, you may not be able to get a fair share of streaming payments, but from now on we’ll know what is truly popular, what people truly want to hear. And we’ll know a hit is something that sustains, not something that is manipulated to number one for a week, never mind something that only lasts a week.


This is a good thing.


Never forget it.


http://www.theverge.com/2015/2/26/8114615/worldwide-album-release-day-friday

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