Release Dates: People Just Don’t Care Anymore

Oct 28th, 2008 // 8 Comments

Last Friday, record stores in Australia decided to put Pink’s Funhouse on sale a day ahead of schedule, what with the album having leaked a couple of weeks ago and the stores wanting to get product in their few remaining customers’ hands in a timely manner. Sales weeks Down Under traditionally run from Saturday to Friday, so albums are usually released on Saturdays in order to maximize first-week sales totals and crow about their records’ No. 1 debuts–but the rogue stores wound up selling enough copies (7,120) on Friday to force Funhouse to debut at No. 4 a week ahead of schedule. The album wound up being removed from the “official” chart, as did AC/DC’s Black Ice.

Stores’ apathy toward holding product back until some sort of arbitrary decided-upon date passes is probably going to grow more and more, what with early leaks of even the biggest albums becoming commonplace and certain bands deciding on their own to break their labels’ release-date stranglehold. But here’s the weird thing: While some stores in Oz are being more footloose than ever about selling major-label product early, smaller bands in the Northern Hemisphere have decided to circle their wagons until release date:

I can remember going to shows and seeing bands play fast and loose with record release dates. You know: “This song’s from a record that’ll be out in three weeks. We’ll have copies of it for sale today.” More and more, though, I’m seeing that not be the case — bands on indie labels will announce that a record will be out in two weeks, or a week, or a few days, but not have it for sale. It doesn’t seem like a case of labels clamping down as much as, well, the obvious internet/leaking/filesharing debate, but it does make for an interesting contrast from years past, and an observable characteristic of how the internet has changed things.

Of course, bands on smaller labels have more to lose in a real sense–they’re generally closer to their revenue streams than an artist who has to fight through the major-label thicket. But I think this practice is a little strange, in that it implies (even unintentionally!) distrust of the fanbase who’s actually going out and seeing shows–particularly for albums that are only out in one or two weeks’ time. (If the record had leaked already, I’d be on the phone right away demanding that my label FedEx me at least a few copies for the merch table.) Have you noticed this change in attitude from the bands you see at all? Will the whole concept of the “release date” become completely out-of-date within the next few years anyway, or will it be replaced by the “release quarter,” just for the sake of labels’ accounting departments?

Stores Break Embargo For Pink []
notes on breaking release [the scowl]
[Pic via CafePress]

  1. Anonymous

    Most of the stuff I want in physical form I want on vinyl, so the release date is always “the plant is backed up/the ridiculous quintuple gatefold sleeve is taking a while to print”.

  2. Anonymous

    Yeah. So much for securing the finished copies before selecting their release date, huh? Nothing’s more fun than preferring to buy vinyl but having to wait months after the album’s release for it to be available…

  3. doublewhiskycokenoice

    i beg of you, internet-savvy pirates who illegally download Pink’s album, to out yourselves now. you realize that if this was the 80′s, you would be the equivalent of people who illegally conspire to get their hands on the new Barry Manilow record to hear “Mandy” a few more times before everyone else? you are the most depressing faction of losers i know. you are probably the same people who send me links to join facebook groups that state “if we get 1 billion ppl, then marc zumberg will bring old fb back!!!” when the dude’s name is NOT marc zumberg. god i hate people.

  4. Maura Johnston

    @doublewhiskycokenoice: []

    also, i downloaded it. and i’m not even gonna use the ‘for work purposes’ caveat, because it’s not bad!

  5. doublewhiskycokenoice

    @Maura Johnston: Regarding the blog you linked…

    That’s it. I retire. I’m just gonna go back to looking at lolcats from now on. Also, more undeserving non-reality tv celebrity than raven simone?

  6. How do I say this ... THROWDINI!

    @doublewhiskycokenoice: What, you don’t want to download Lady Gaga’s iTunes bonus track or watch Britney’s workout video? You, my friend, are uncultured.

  7. Chris Molanphy

    @doublewhiskycokenoice: you realize that if this was the 80′s, you would be the equivalent of people who illegally conspire to get their hands on the new Barry Manilow record to hear “Mandy” a few more times before everyone else?

    You really have a skewed concept of what the ’80s sounded like if you think we were still listening to Barry Manilow back then.

  8. Anonymous

    I may be alone in this but, whenever I’m going to see a band 2-3 weeks before their album is released (or hell, even a week before), I’m always hoping that it’ll leak. Why? How annoying is it when you go to a show and a band plays 6-7 tracks of new material, sacrificing songs you are familiar with, and all your left to do is stand there and scratch your ass and/or play BrickBreaker. Anyone else get annoyed at this?

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