Posted in News by A2IM
We have been reporting to you about an IFPI initiative to move all countries to a Global Street Date. The majority of A2IM members favor a Global Street Date to better align international social media/digital commerce opportunities. Based on a majority of member feedback, however, we do not believe the current proposal of Friday is ideal. Rather, we favor a day earlier in the week, preferably the same date as DVDs, games, and books as they generate physical retail store traffic and result in less logistical challenges.
With input from conversations with A2IM, Michael Kurtz, who runs the Independent music retailer Department of Record Stores coalition and who co-founded Record Store Day, prepared a view of the numerous Friday-street date issues from the physical-retail perspective. Below are his key points:
1.) A Tuesday street date, or any early to mid-week street date, allows for errors in shipping to be discovered and processed. A Friday street date leaves no room for error and will lead to lost sales and lost customer loyalty.
2.) A Tuesday street date, or any early to mid-week street date, allows for miscalculations in ordering to be quickly addressed and restocks to happen immediately. If a record explodes on a Friday the only way to meet unexpected demand is to have retail and distribution staff on hand for the weekend. The distributors and retailers would then be charged with making and processing orders on days that their offices are currently closed. In this scenario, the distributor and retailer would need to facilitate orders on Saturday and Sunday for Monday deliveries restocking, or risk under performance at retail. This will be expensive.
3.) The consensus among the store owners is that at a time that all of the distributors have cut back on staff and have shifted towards automated ordering, there aren’t available resources for rehiring and training employees for the required weekend work. Retailers are also under cost constraints; having to hire and train employees to work on orders over the weekend is burdensome. A simple cursory check with a few distributors confirms that there is little chance that they will reverse their automation goals and hire and train staff for weekend work. The net result will be retailers who are out of stock, as well as, lost sales and lost customer loyalty.
4.) Stores who do a healthy on-line business say that most of the orders they receive are during working hours. No one can understand why a street date would be picked (Friday) that is followed by 48 hours (Saturday and Sunday) when most customers are not at work and, thus, are away from computers and less likely to purchase music online. Again, this will lead to lost sales.
5.) Stores who work closely with record labels and local artists to do in-store events will be locked out. Artists and promoters are comfortable doing events on Tuesday (or most days not on or near the weekend) as it does not compete with their weekend concerts/shows – which are the artist and promoters’ bread and butter. If the street date is moved to Friday, then artist street date events will stop. This is bad for established artists, but is especially bad for developing artists. This will lead to lost sales and loss of the record stores’ place in their local communities.
6.) Related to promotion of releases, both traditional media and on-line media that break on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday has a bigger impact than media breaking at the end of the week.
7.) Right now, all CDs, movies and games share the same street date. If one shifts, but the others don’t, this will require multiple weekly shipments to retailers, driving up costs, which will lead to either lost margin, or layoffs of employees to make up for the loss. This will lead to lower sales. Additionally, as consumers go into stores on Tuesdays to buy movies and games, they may also make impulse purchases of new music releases being displayed on end-caps.
8.) Healthy retailers depend on managing the week to spread out sales and cater to the diverse needs of both their customers and their label and distribution partners. Right now, Tuesday is the third highest sales day of the week as the hard core fans come in on street date at the beginning of the week and we have the weekend to get everyone else. Some A2IM members see as much as ½ of their first week sales happening on Tuesday and the rest happening on the weekend, giving labels and retailers two shots at consumers. This day enables retailers to gauge sales trends leading into the weekend. Tuesday also allows good retailers to gauge customer demand, media attention via outlets like NPR, album reviews, blog postings, etc. These retailers dovetail with artist and label efforts and they restock accordingly. If this process is moved to the weekend, it will be especially hard on developing artists and/or any artist that is not a part of a major national or international marketing campaign.
9.) The second highest sales day of the week is Friday. The highest sales day of the week is Saturday. There is a flow to how the sales unfold from Tuesday on through the weekend. If we uproot this flow, we eliminate one of the three highest sales days and potentially turn Monday into a dead day as replenishment is unlikely to happen over the weekend leaving retailers ill prepared for the week. This will lead to lost sales and a bad customer experience.
10.) A Friday street date puts the music industry in direct competition with the movie business for the customer’s entertainment dollars. The movie industry spends a lot of money on marketing their new releases with everything from television ads, to print ads, to radio ads, to on line campaigns, etc. The music industry does not do this. Unless the music industry finds the funds to do big marketing spends (which is considered unlikely) music retail will be at a big disadvantage with a Friday street date. The end result will be less sales and less customers, leading to a diminished ability for indie retailers to stock and sell many diverse music titles.
This process of setting a Global Release date will continue; Alison Wenham of WIN/AIM and Glen Barros of Concord, who is on both the A2IM and IFPI boards, are representing us, so please continue to share your feedback so that we can share it with them.