NARM Fights For Consistency

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

NARM, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, is fighting to keep digital albums from being released before their physical counterparts. They recently released a statement to record labels and retailers detailing their concern about the discrepancy in release dates.

NARM, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, is fighting to keep digital albums from being released before their physical counterparts. They recently released a statement to record labels and retailers detailing their concern about the discrepancy in release dates.

In the statement, NARM told companies, “Over the past few months, there have been instances where release dates for physical and digital versions of albums did not coincide, creating unnecessary and unwelcome marketing obstacles, consumer confusion and, most importantly, missed sales opportunities.”

NARM appears to be fighting a losing battle, however, as many labels are moving towards this digital-first, physical-second business module. Antony Bruno, of Billboard.biz, even goes as far as to say that “digital downloads are the new radio,” arguing that an early digital release is now no different than the industry standard pre-album release of a radio single.

Other factors that NARM will have to consider include the problem of unauthorized P2P downloads, the possibility of purchasing the album at a lower price digitally, and the increasingly popular “Radiohead model” that allows fans to name their own price and download albums well before physical release.

Rather than fighting a system that, let’s face it, doesn’t want to die, NARM could focus on the potential benefits of early digital release. Coldplay’s Viva la Vida was leaked online weeks prior to its release and still hit number one on both U.S. and U.K. Billboard charts. Beck is planning to release forthcoming Modern Times on TouchTunes machines before it sees daylight in stores. Perhaps NARM should take a cue from Beck, and get with the “modern times.”



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