Why is it tradition, and is it the best release strategy for you?
If you’re constantly waiting for your favorite artists to drop new music, then every Friday is like Christmas morning. New Music Friday, or artists releasing singles and albums at midnight on Fridays, has become such a widespread practice in the music industry that even casual consumers are familiar with the concept. But how did New Music Friday become the standard? And, if you’re someone looking to put out music, should you abide by the Law of Friday yourself?
History of New Music Friday
“New Music Friday dates back to just 2015, when streaming was solidly taking hold of the music industry.”
Before that time, the industry-standard domestic release day was Tuesday. Before 2015, international releases would be scattered throughout the week: an album might be released in the UK on Monday, the US on Tuesday, Australia on Thursday, and so on. Tuesday was chosen for the US-based on convenience -- crates of music could be shipped over the weekend and stocked on Monday so they’d be ready for consumers on Tuesday. But when digital downloads, and, eventually, streaming, took over, this model created a piracy issue. An album that was released earlier in the week in one country would be a target for illegal distribution and non-monetized use, costing artists and labels significant sums of money. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry recognized the need for a standardized international release day and unified all 1300 of its member labels behind the change: thus, New Music Friday was born.
Does Friday Still Make Sense?
Of course, with streaming being the dominant method of consumption, piracy is less of a concern these days. The question then becomes: why does everyone continue to adhere to Friday as the standard release day? Wouldn’t it make more sense to stagger releases so new content doesn’t get lost in the Friday sea? There remain a few reasons why releasing on Friday still makes sense for artists. For one, Friday releases give artists the best chance of charting. Billboard tracks releases from Friday to Thursday, so releasing on Friday means that your song’s first tracked week will be a full seven days (if you released on Monday, it would only be four days). Further, streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music have shifted their main programming to be updated on Fridays. These platforms have New Music Friday playlists, release radars, and other curated content to deliver new music to consumers. Releasing on Fridays gives artists the best chance of being featured on these lists, upping their listener count on the first day.
What About Me?
“If you’re an independent artist thinking of putting out music, what day makes the most sense for you to release? ”
The answer depends on what your goals are. If charting or placements on curated platform playlists are your goals, then releasing on Friday might be the best move for you. If you’re not at a point where those are your primary goals, breaking out of the New Music Friday routine could help you break through the noise. Releasing earlier in the week gives music publications a chance to review your content and boost your visibility before the weekend and gives you less competition when fighting for consumers’ attention on release day.
When it comes to releasing your own music, consider the reasons other artists observe New Music Friday and then consider if those reasons apply to you. New Music Friday might be the tradition, but, especially in the music business, tradition isn’t always the best strategy.