NEW YORK - The music industry has announced an agreement to release albums globally on Fridays, ending divergences among regions that have fueled piracy in an age of instant music.
Key groups representing music retailers, record companies and artists said that they would coordinate album releases to go out everywhere each Friday at one minute past midnight local time.
The decision, after nine months of consultation, is expected to go into effect by summer in the Northern Hemisphere, said Frances Moore, chief executive officer of the music industry's global body IFPI.
"What is absolutely clear is that there is nearly unanimous agreement that a global release date is a good thing," Moore told AFP.
Under longstanding traditions, albums are generally released on Monday in Britain and France, Tuesday in the United States, Wednesday in Japan and Friday in Australia and Germany.
The variations have looked increasingly anachronistic amid the rapid growth of digital downloading and more recently streaming, contributing to a black market for albums already out in one region.
Moore said that a global release date would help bring more excitement to the industry.
"Let's say Daft Punk, for example, makes an announcement saying that their album's out today, but it's in America and it's not until Friday in Germany. There is a three- or four-day gap.
"As a consumer, you can't find it, even though the artist says it's out there. So now they won't have to go looking on a pirate site --we are focusing them on the legitimate market," she said.
London-based IFPI, which stands for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, said it had consulted with the International Federation of Musicians, which represents global unions, as well as leading retailers and streaming services including Spotify.
One source of opposition have been independent retailers in the United States, the world's largest music market, who have supported a global release date but not on Friday.
US retailers generally chose Tuesday as it would otherwise be a slow day, and it offers ample time for albums to arrive over the weekend.
In recent years, artists including Beyonce and Madonna have also suddenly released albums without warning, either in response to leaks or sometimes to avoid them.
Moore said that the Friday plan enjoyed broad support but that there would be no legal ramifications for anyone who insists on another day.
"There could be an artist or individual producer who decides at some point they're not going on that day... but there is a clear majority in favour of doing this, and I think eventually it will be aligned," she said.