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Is the Concept of a Release Date Still the Right Answer?

Is the concept of a release date still relevant in the digital world?

This came to mind as a result of my DJ hobby and hearing a new tune on Radio 1, which I thought would work perfectly in my next set.

…except it’s not released yet and no release date mentioned either.

So it’s on Radio 1, therefore people are hearing it and some will want it. And yet there is no possibility to stream or download until the release date, which is unknown right now.

I understand the psychology of wanting something more when we can’t have it but isn’t there a secondary consideration in our modern world? We are fickle and flooded with information, so my observation is that most of us will do one of two things:

  1. Either forget all about it because our attention and cash will go elsewhere
  2. Or find a way to get it illegally. Heard of Streamripping?

On the second one, Spotify proved that making a legal option available, in a form that consumers want, reduces piracy.

Movies appear to follow a similar pattern, whereby the concept of cinema and then DVD release restricts streaming services having new films right away. So consumers who prefer the streaming format have to wait or find other alternatives.

When the world changes we can hold onto traditions and industry norms longer than we should, forgetting what they were designed to address in the first place. A good test is whether you would set things up that way if you were designing it from scratch today.

The release date made sense in the world of CDs and Vinyl, where it was made available in the shops at a pre-determined moment in time; a function of the processes of making and shipping physical products to the shops.

I wonder if in the modern world of streaming the concept of a release date, or holding back availability to some pre-determined point in the future, still makes sense?