Apr 21st, 2008 // 8 Comments

drip_drippy_leaky_1044057_l.jpgThis month’s two big record releases–Madonna’s Hard Candy and Mariah Carey’s E=MC2–were kept under super-secret lock and key by their record labels, but that didn’t stop them from leaking approximately 10 days before they were scheduled to hit shelves, with both leaks being marked as the “retail” editions of the album. Somehow in my life I’ve never worked in a record store, so I’m wondering exactly why these retail editions have always seemed to show up at the same time on even the most protected albums. (Recall that even the Raconteurs record leaked, despite its much shorter lead time.) Wouldn’t it make more sense to get the albums on store shelves as soon as the shipments arrive? Why is the music industry still so attached to the Tuesday release date, anyway? I realize that even in these hard times it’s a large, lumbering beast, but you’d think that protecting a revenue stream would at least spur some sort of action. [Photo via Spojen?]

  1. loudersoft

    Further evidence of Commercial Darwinism in action here, projected earnings, market expectations, having everyone “on board” with the “brand messages” requires an inordinate amount of time.

    Now if we could only download coffee and cigarettes we could cut out the middle men forever.

  2. Anonymous

    The Tuesday record release date seems to be more and more of a formality at this point.

    As downloadable singles become more and more of a revenue stream, I think the major labels will spend less time and money promoting full record releases.

    Why pay all those producers for all those expensive tracks only to have them leaked for free online while the only single that gets purchased is the one currently being promoted to radio and video outlets?

  3. Dickdogfood

    The fixed release date is here to stay unless Billboard wants to start tabulating charts in a completely different fashion than it has for the last umpteen decades.

  4. Sniffle

    “Retail” versions don’t have to mean the source was taken from a box at the Virgin Megastore and ripped – it just means it’s the finished, mastered version that might as well have been lifted from the warehouse where the cd’s are made and boxed or countless other places that out of necessity get them first.

  5. revmatty

    We generally got the new releases via UPS on Mondays, unboxed/priced/security tagged and ready to put out after closing on Monday. Occasionally we’d get new titles the week prior to release but not often.

  6. Lucas Jensen

    Release dates are a dead concept, pure and simple. They are relics and should be treated as such. Nothing wrong with rallying the troops, but so many records are “over” these days before they even come out. What’s wrong with selling something right away?

  7. Chris Molanphy

    @Dickdogfood: …except Billboard and the industry have been adjusting to weird release dates for more than half a decade now, arguably since The Eminem Show leaked in 2002.

    I mean, granted, if every album came out on a different day of the week there’d be some chaos, but the charts would be the charts: covering a seven-day period, into which various new records would appear with either the usual six-day window, or three days, or four, etc.

    And let’s reflect on what kinds of records suffer this weird-date fate: highly anticipated major-label product (and/or major-indie product like Arcade Fire). Arguably releases like that wouldn’t suffer much from a Friday release, because pent-up demand is going to be reflected in the first-week figures even if that “week” is only a weekend.

  8. janine

    @HONEYBFLY: Perhaps I’m a dinosaur, but I don’t want to only listen to singles.

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