Homer’s Mike Fratt on ‘New Music Friday’ (spoiler alert: He doesn’t like it); new Protomartyr; Melvins tonight…
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
When the first New Music Friday happened last week — forever changing release date for new albums from Tuesdays to Fridays — I asked Homer’s General Manager Mike Fratt for his take on the change. Here’s what he had to say, via email:
“I fought very hard against this while on the Music Business Association board. The idea came from Universal’s Global head of digital sales. There was no research to support this move and when we pushed back they presented this trumped up nonsense they called research. Funny to see it mentioned in the NPR piece as it was total bullshit.
“I am against removing a traffic driver from the middle of the week to the weekend. As the face of the fight against this I was on the cover of the Wall Street Journal back in November of 2014.
“It is stupid to move the dependency to just the weekend and to move away from the release date we shared with books, movies, comics, video games, etc. Doing so creates logistics issues for our suppliers, who ship all the products to stores together. Now they will have to manage new release shipments twice a week to accommodate music separate from the other categories.
“There is also concern about sales. Currently, if a new release blows up stores can easily restock for the weekend. Now, if something blows up on Friday there will be no restocking ’til Tuesday at the earliest. Dumb.
“We were for a global release day, just not Friday. We (U.S. retail) and the trade association for music retailers in the UK (ERA) agreed to both use Monday in an effort to keep it during the week but align to one day.
“Universal threatened to leave the Music Biz Association if the board approved the move to Monday as they were invested in it being Friday. I had the votes on the board lined up to approve Monday. That threat would have crushed Music Biz Assoc as Universal is the largest member and pays the largest dues. I was so disgusted by this unprofessional action that, after nine years on the board, I resigned.
“Soundscan has yet to get all retailers to alter their reporting of sales dates (during the week) to reflect this move to Friday through Thursday from the current Sunday to Saturday, so the first eight weeks’ sales numbers will be royally fucked up and very likely just made up.”
I asked Fratt, in this new streaming age does the release date matter to anyone except brick-and-mortar stores? Are we headed toward an age when music is released digitally whenever? His response:
“Regarding your question about digital, this aligns digital and physical even more so. So, I don’t see digital going rogue and releasing on different days than physical. But pay for digital album sales are falling faster than physical. And if all indie stores sales were actually counted (only 60 report to soundscan) we would see physical sales are actually pretty healthy.
“Streaming is the new radio, as you so often write. It creates awareness for releases, artists, music. We’re seeing it positively impact physical sales.”
A post script to all of this:
Last Friday the Saddle Creek Shop, located in north downtown in the Slowdown complex, announced it no longer will stock non-Saddle Creek Records titles, and that the store will only be open one day a week — Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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In other news, Protomartyr released the first song from their upcoming album, The Agent Intellect, out Oct. 9 on Hardly Art. Check it out.
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Iconic ’80s/’90s/today doom/sludge/stoner/metal/grunge band Melvins plays tonight at The Waiting Room. If you’re wondering if you should go, here’s a review of last Wednesday’s Melvins show in Chicago, complete with set list, to help you decide. Le Butcherettes opens the show at 9 p.m. $17.
Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.