Growing up in a family with a mother who was a former modern dance choreographer and father who played the trombone and collected records,music was going to be an enormous part of my growing up of course. Its a theme that I’ve explored heavily in a lot of these writings. Of course there were apparently,allegedly many things as an idealistic young person that I wasn’t understanding about the more “mature” perception of music even in the 1980’s. There’s one thing that I know with a full level of certainty. During my youth/adolescence new albums by anyone came out on just about any given day of the week. So much so that I don’t even know what days any given album during the 1990’s even came out. On and after 9/11, I started hearing about this phenomenon called New Music Tuesday. Suddenly all new music released was put on the shelves the same day-regardless of what it is. Even to this very day,I still don’t have any particular idea why this is.
Did some online surfing on the subject and only the NPR news feed that did discuss the subject relatively in depth. Apparently all new music is released on Monday in England,on Friday in Germany. So they asked the question that if Tuesday isn’t the universally accepted best day to offer new music to customers and there’s no law or grand business wisdom about it, why does everyone put out albums on the same day? One possibility had to due with the publication of Billboard magazine on Wednesdays. That means in affect that,if new music is released on Tuesday’s,they will get the optimum seven days in sales counted towards the total sales,which could of course include the weekend. Interesting enough all of the other sites mentioned in my online search were all promotional engines for different music sellers regarding New Music Tuesday. Which would suggest that while not grand by any means,the entire concept is in fact rooted in business.
There’s no doubt among those with eyes to see and ears to listen that the world of music has been significantly different than it was in the 1970’s and 1980’s. During those years Curtis Mayfield would go onto Soul Train in 1972 and discuss with an eager and waiting youth culture what inspired him to write the songs for his breakthrough soundtrack album Superfly. Or even Todd Rundgren on Entertainment Tonight in 1985 discussing the workings of the synclaviar he used to make his A Cappella album. During the 1990’s,a decade that very falsely preached an anti establishment ethic, media discussions about musicians would be generally limited to discussions not of their musical contributions. But more having to do solely with an outfit they were wearing for a music video,who they were dating or any number of publicity stunt having nothing to do with music. Fashion has always been a part of popular music. In the past fifteen years however fashion IS popular music. Sometimes it seems as if more time and concentration is spent on an album cover than on the albums musical content. To paraphrase George Clinton,the “pimping of the pleasure principle” seems to have won out.
Yes that does tend to paint a grim and negative picture of the music world-one that is now linked,even in revisionist thoughts of its past,as being purely capitalistic. To the point where record collectors and music lovers are referred to only as “shameless consumers”. New Music Tuesday has sadly contributed greatly to that perception. My own personal view of this entire phenomenon is this; capitalism itself has not made the music world a more shallow environment-the IDEA of capitalism is what has done that. The focus in the popular culture towards mainly the surface level appeal of musical artists rather than the music they make. This not only has the effect of making the music itself just as shallow as the image making itself (which was a huge unsung case in the alternative rock era of the early/mid 90’s) but reinforcing the concept that each individual contribution is part of one whole construct by releasing it all on the same day of the week. Its perfect for business, but runs completely contrary to creativity. So someone like me is wishing,hoping and trying even to help bring American’s back to a time of New Music Any Day instead of New Music Tuesday.