New York - Music vendors around the world will start on July 10 to release albums globally on Fridays, ending most but not all regional variations, an industry group said.
The IFPI, the music industry's global body, announced an agreement in February to start selling albums on Fridays but said that all sides needed time to sort out the logistics.
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The IFPI, which stands for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, said that labels, stores, artists and other stakeholders agreed that they would be ready on July 10 for Friday releases.
The move covers all formats CDs, vinyl, digital downloads and streaming.
"We think a global release day reflects the realities of the current global music business," said Glen Barros, president of Concord Music Group, whose roster includes Paul McCartney and Paul Simon.
"Of course, the change presents a number of challenges as it's a major adjustment to long established customs and practices, but our involvement in the planning process convinces us the move will benefit consumers, which should mean we're all better off in the long run," he said in a statement released Thursday by the IFPI.
Changes for digital era
The global release day will cover 45 markets, including 11 countries such as Australia and Germany where Friday was already the standard day.
Many industry players said that the hodgepodge of release days was increasingly anachronistic and fueled piracy in an era when most music can be accessed instantly online.
Albums traditionally come out on Tuesdays in the United States and Canada, and on Mondays in Britain and France.
Advocates for Friday releases said it makes sense for albums to come out at the start of the weekend, when there are more casual shoppers.
To mark the announcement, the IFPI released a logo and website for "New Music Fridays," hoping to create a buzz among music buyers.
"We can't do business and serve fans based on a distribution system from a half a century ago, with different release dates in different countries. We have to rethink everything," said Cary Sherman, chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America.
Holdouts stand firm
But the global date will not be legally binding, with artists or stores free to hold their releases if they prefer another date.
Notably, the IFPI said that Japan would continue to release albums aimed primarily at the domestic market on Wednesdays, the customary day there, although the debut of works by global artists should shift to Fridays.
The IFPI said it expected some artists in other Asian countries to keep their tradition of releasing albums on dates considered auspicious, not necessarily Fridays.
While major music vendors support the global release day, the shift has prompted a backlash from a number of small, independent stores in the United States that see the move as a diktat.
The small shops argue that weekends are already good for business, while Tuesdays would bring out customers on a slow day.
Eric Levin, who owns Criminal Records in Atlanta, said he would keep releasing albums whenever they were ready and not allocate staff to opening boxes on busy weekends.
"As one store and someone who's been doing this for 35 years, I haven't seen the industry make this big of a mistake," he said.
"For the industry to bury its best stuff against movies and weekend activities is just very silly."
Digital music started shaking the industry in the late 1990s but small stores have seen a resurgence in the United States in the past few years, led by the revival of vinyl.