Monday, October 13, 2008

Shop early for Christmas

Here's something interesting, albeit slightly touched on before. We don't quite understand why - after all, nobody has their Christmas lists sorted with more than eleven weeks to go - but October 2nd was the year's big day in publishing. That was the date of release for a lot of the big hitters publishers expect to do business among festive shoppers, from Michael Parkinson's autobiography to the Stephen Fry In America tie-in (a week and a half before the series). The idea is get the author to do heavy promotion now and it'll carry through to mid-December.

The record industry in Britain used to work differently. Common belief was that all major new releases had to get out of the way in September and October in preparation for the flood of cash in Best Ofs, repackages and restocking of albums from the newspaper best of the year lists, leaving no room for marketers to do their worst. As recently as two years ago many noted that Joanna Newsom's Ys was being pitched into the middle of a dead period for new albums, being as it was released on November 13th.

This year, however, things are different. Whether through the triumph of downloads or the precarious nature of major label finances forcing their hand to keep going all year, this November and even early December sees new albums released by Kanye West, the Killers, Dido, Razorlight, Britney Spears, Girls Aloud, 50 Cent, Lemar, Tom Jones, Nickelback, Outkast's Big Boi and now, who'd have thought, Guns 'n Roses. A time when all concerned's thoughts are usually headed Christmas number one-wards seem to have waved that white flag in the face of X Factor-dom and realised that they have all this new long form material that just can't wait, with the knock-on effect that January, traditionally the month huge new acts are launched, is looking fairly dead, Lily Allen's second album in mid-February at the moment kickstarting the major releases list for 2009. Either everyone suddenly got prolific three or four months ago, or someone's indulging in group panicking.

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