Why the music biz needs to learn to love Q1 as much as it loves Q4

Why the music biz needs to learn to love Q1 as much as it loves Q4

For years now, music retail has pleaded with the music industry not to stack all its big releases at the end of the year, and let a few big records out of the blocks at other times. And now the labels should surely be able to see what they’re on about.

There’s still a few hours of Q1 2017 to go but the releases of Rag’N’Bone Man, Stormzy and Ed Sheeran have given the lie to the theory that only end-of-year gifting can deliver true blockbuster sales.

A case in point: Sheeran’s week three sales of ÷ were bigger than anything anyone managed week one (or any week for that matter) at any point in 2016.

And, with Take That hitting shelves last Friday, just in time for Mother’s Day, and already smashing past 100K sales, there will be more good news before the Official Charts Company calls last orders at the Q1 bar.

Partly, this tells us nothing more complicated than that good music will find its audience, whatever time of year it is.

But, more hearteningly, it also shows us that music can still generate excitement on its own terms, rather than just as a last-minute stocking filler for that hard-to-buy-for uncle or auntie.

Despite Q1’s flying start, UK high street retail still remains under pressure, with music sales in bricks and mortar shops plunging again last year, according to figures from ERA.

If we are to keep physical music alive long-term, the industry needs to gamble on releasing high-profile albums in months that don’t end in ‘ber’.

Especially as the last few weeks have shown us that there is more room for a sustained sales push - and greater interest from media - than during the crowded end of year period.

After all, if March is good enough for Ed Sheeran, then it really should be good enough for anyone.

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