[Editors Note: This article was written by Hugh McIntyre.]
Sometimes in the entertainment world, breaking from the norm can be a good thing. In fact, it usually is…though there are calendars and structures in place that are very tough to fight, and doing so can come with just as many drawbacks as benefits.
One such example is the tracking week, which runs from early in the morning on Friday (12 AM EST, for those in the U.S.) to the following Thursday at 11:59 PM EST. The tracking week is the period in which streams and sales of songs and albums are counted by Nielsen, and then all that data is shared with Billboard, which turns it into the charts.
This is why New Music Friday is such a well-known and important weekly moment in the music world, and it’s when the vast majority of projects arrive, especially those by the most celebrated and popular musical acts.
So, as a musician trying to make a living in a notoriously difficult industry and reach as many people as possible with a new piece of work, is it smart to go with the trend and release a single or album on Friday, or should you do the opposite? Let’s focus for now on going against the grain and sharing your art midweek.
Here are some pros and cons associated with releasing your latest studio effort on a weekday that isn’t Friday.
Pro – More Attention
If you’ve ever looked at Spotify or Apple Music’s new music playlists on a Friday, you know just how many songs and albums are released at the end of the week. Fridays are packed with the biggest stars on the planet sharing hot new singles, much-hyped albums that have been promoted with millions of dollars in advertising, and surprise drops of all kinds. Finding your way on to one of those playlists, or even to a list published by a blog or magazine of new projects shared on that one day is very, very tough…but things aren’t nearly as competitive on days that don’t begin with a capital F.
When musicians release something on a different day, whether it be an EP, a single, a remix or even a full album (though that seems to happen less frequently), they aren’t fighting against so many other artists for the attention of music lovers everywhere. On Fridays, even those who are well-known, professional musicians with several hits in their discography can get lost in the fray, but on, say, a Monday, there’s a better chance your latest drop will be noticed, and an immediate reception on platforms like Spotify can quickly snowball, leading to bigger and better things.
Pro – Media
Like streaming sites, all manner of media that cover music are inundated with new releases coming on Friday, and while they usually get a heads-up about albums and singles (and the top outlets will almost always be able to get a copy of the music and write whatever they want in time to schedule it for a Friday publishing), that doesn’t make those days any less hectic. In fact, many blogs and magazines have so much to publish on a Friday, they may not have space to post about anything that isn’t top tier, no matter how good it may be.
While Fridays are filled to the brim with reviews, news items and the like about brand new singles and full-lengths, the same online media outlet may not be too crazed on a Tuesday. If you and whomever you’re working with on your PR efforts (if you have anyone) are smart and give writers and editors plenty of advance notice, follow up carefully and considerately and properly release your music on a day that isn’t Friday (or the weekend, as those days usually aren’t the best either), you stand a much better shot at securing coverage for your art that you might otherwise not be able to get.
Con – Charts
As is mentioned above, the tracking week for charts pretty much everywhere runs from Friday to the following Thursday, and all titles have that same amount of time in which to rack up streams, sales and radio play, hoping to perform well enough to appear on a Billboard ranking the following frame. The biggest names in the business, or, perhaps more appropriately, the companies behind them, aren’t willing to seriously hurt their chances to debut high or appear on a notable list by releasing something that could be big midweek…but you may want to take that risk.
If you’re a musician who has never reached a Billboard chart before, chances are your next release won’t make it to any of them either, at least not immediately. I don’t mean this as an insult—there are countless beloved acts who never managed to, and the charts aren’t a reflection of talent, necessarily.
If you share your song or album on a Monday instead of a Friday, you are absolutely handicapping your chances of landing on a Billboard roster, but if that wasn’t in the cards anyway, or if you really don’t care about that sort of thing, this section shouldn’t bother you one bit.
Con – People Might Not Be Looking For It
The music industry’s tracking week has been set as Friday through Thursday for several years, so by now, those who are plugged in to what’s happening in the business and who actively seek out new releases are programmed to look on blogs and streaming platforms on the last day of the workweek. Sure, there’s a lot to sort through, but that’s when many music lovers go searching for tasty new tracks and full-lengths…which means they probably aren’t bothering to do the same on, say, a Wednesday.
As a rising talent, you will be able to promote your forthcoming release on social media and via a newsletter, but reaching those who haven’t already declared themselves as serious fans is difficult. If the masses aren’t looking for brand new drops on the day you share yours, chances are they’ll miss the news. Sure, Fridays are jam-packed with too many other drops to count, but at least that’s when people are on the hunt and mentally prepared to listen to things they don’t know, whereas the same can’t be said for the other days of the week, for the most part.