Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Narrow Window for Hits

Now that Apple Music’s 90-day free trial phase is winding down, can you name the big hit songs of the last few months?

If you’re like most music fans, you can’t name more than one or two new hits released during the last quarter. You probably recognize several of the new songs when you hear them, but don’t know them well enough to rattle off a list of titles. The well-publicized launch of Apple Music had a chilling effect on new releases, with many held back so they wouldn’t cross paths with the free trial period. This happened even though Apple decided at the last minute to pay royalties during the trial period. There may be a flurry of memorable songs in the next five weeks, as recording artists and record companies try to fit their potential hits in the narrow window between the Apple Music trial period and the Christmas music season. Timing of product releases has always been a tricky question, but it is rare that the timing of record releases becomes so constrained. It shows, at least, how much impact institutional changes can have on the publicity efforts of musicians.