| 25 Sep 2023
Indian industry professionals react to decision on 'Music Fridays'

MUMBAI: Music releases might most likely take the path of film releases by setting Friday as the day for unveiling new albums and singles. The idea came via the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which announced Friday should be the Global Release Day for music.

On 26th February 2015, the IFPI stated compelling logic that Friday is the day that best suits consumers. The note further added that Friday and Saturday are days of highest footfall in physical retail stores and the highest levels of purchasing traffic online. The consistent findings, based on research conducted in countries like Brazil, France, Italy, Malaysia, Spain, Sweden and the USA, helped them derive the decision. The note by IFPI stated “the concept has been long in preparation, and long in consultation.”

IFPI chief executive Frances Moore said, “A global release day makes sense for one overwhelming reason – it meets the needs of the music consumer. In today’s globalised world, it makes no sense for new music to be released to fans on different days of the week. At the same time, we view this as a tremendous opportunity to breathe new life back into the release of music.”

Indian Music Industry Secretary General Savio D'Souza said, "The people working on-ground in the end will have to address the issue. We will anyway go ahead with this; it is up to the industry how they would like to do it.” 

Label companies like Universal/EMI India and Sony Music India are going with the plan of a global release day. Commenting on the development, South Asia Universal Music / EMI Music managing director Devraj Sanyal said, “A simultaneous worldwide release day helps us as music consumers in India will now have access to new music at the same time as the rest of the world. Besides, marketing and promotional campaigns leading into the release can be in synch globally. This cuts down piracy too, as there will be no gap in release dates between territories.”  Sony Music Entertainment (India and Middle East) president Shridhar Subramaniam believes that “this (decision) helps the consumers as they will know which day they can expect new releases to be available.”  

The plan is expected to come in place by summer this year for many in the music business. Subramaniam said, “This will begin with international music this summer and will slowly extend to all releases.”  However, Universal Music India will aim to implement this for domestic releases as well. “It will be a good thing for trade partners if it is implemented across both international as well domestic markets. It will help them plan better. Why should domestic be any different?” stated Sanyal.

India’s Times Music COO Mandar Thakur provided his view on announcement based on his understanding about the Indian music industry.  He said, “There is confusion within the market / community on the reasoning behind a Global Release Day. Each market has its peculiarities and perhaps the IFPI could have boded well to consult this more deeply.” Thakur added, “Also the greater impact of the adoption of this Global Release Day is towards the U.S. /UK markets that have worldwide releases - not sure if the impact of this in India would be a game changer of any consequence .Typically this would have been a great thing had the IFPI / record industry realised 15 /16 years ago that the consumer was the king and organised themselves around evolving consumer habits.” 

The IFPI was aware that there will be debate around the decision but will still go ahead with it. There is talk about the impact the decision will have on new and small artists who might lose their audiences due to the release of new material of all types and genres of artistes on the same day. However, Sanyal stated, “I don’t personally see any challenges to implement this (Global Release Day) as it is just a matter of re-aligning the product supply chain. Everything else will fall in place. And no it won’t matter if it is a big or small artist.” Sanyal further stressed that artistes can now communicate with one message to their fan base globally via their social media platforms.

Digital Distribution Company and music streaming service Hungama also offered its view on the development. CEO Siddhartha Roy said, “As the largest digital distributor for South Asian entertainment we understand that fragmented releases result in consumers feeling alienated in some markets. We have ensured that our releases are global and available to consumers across the world at the same time. We welcome the move by IFPI and look forward to launching international content across all our key markets.”

Meanwhile, Gaana business head Pawan Agarwal stated, “It is good news for Indian fans that have to wait for International tracks to be released in India. This will also help curb piracy because the music will be available on all digital platforms and retail stores on the same day.” Agarwal believes that a change in the way the international catalogue is provided will not impact the industry.

However, it might change the date for chart releases and various statistics. This would mean great operational planning and coordination between the labels and digital retailers, physical stores and other service providers.