(Billboard Magazine, November 9, 2013)
Timing is everything when it comes to releasing new music, and many artists have experienced great success in the past with releases that hit the market during the month of December. Fifteen years ago Island Def Jam tried something unheard of when they released a new album in December. Even though this move was met with major doubt among retailers, the album took off leading the way for more artists to follow suit. It was discovered that not only was December a good month to launch a new release, but amazingly the week after Christmas was exceptionally good for sales.
Releasing albums and songs during the week after Christmas makes sense because that week ranks above the top in music sales for the whole year. The reasons can be attributed to people spending gift cards they received for Christmas or exchanging gifts they don’t want for something else. Also, retail stores enjoy a lot of traffic with their after Christmas sales which many shoppers look forward to every year and consider an annual holiday tradition. However, the question still remains pertaining to the timing of a new release versus the sale of albums that are already on the market.
Even though the week after Christmas is still a big revenue maker for retailers, their shelf space has already been allocated to proven sellers and popular items. They are busy with customer service, handling returns, and keeping their shelves full with the year end stock. Many companies such as record labels and distributors are closed during the last week of the year, so if there is a problem with a newly released album it might not be easily corrected. Even iTunes is short staffed the last two weeks of the year, so there are some disadvantages concerning the promotion of a new release on their site during this time period. However, in today’s environment artists heavily market to their fans directly through social media which can translate to big sales regardless of the concerns for a December release.