The lazy days of summer are upon us, though not at Orchard HQ where we’re still in full swing. It’s common knowledge and practice that release schedules die down over the summer, at least for many higher profile releases. In the physical world, you need to hold your bigger releases for the autumn, full stop. Distribution companies across Europe close down, promo companies close. No one is around to release or promote your record. The summer months are best avoided.
Does the same apply in a digital world though? Digital deliveries are year round. Your release can hit stores even if most Europeans are sunning themselves on the beach. Obviously all factors need to be taken into account when planning a release. If promo teams are being hired across mainland Europe, it would still be beneficial to hold to avoid holidays. If the physical format is likely to strongly outperform the digital, the advice of the physical distributor is best heeded.
There can however be advantages to releasing in the slow summer months. Fewer releases mean less competition for the same limited store placements. With so many releases being held for the autumn, competition for autumn features is fierce and a summer release can help avoid the scrum and provide a stronger chance at nabbing a coveted feature. Additionally, with slower release schedules all around, a release might have a better chance to work its way into the higher echelons of the charts.
Of course, reasons do still exist to hold for an autumn release. What can otherwise be done to maximise summer sales and avoid having a seasonal business? The slower summer months are an excellent time to look at catalogue and how to maximise sales of titles already released. Some campaign suggestions can be found in my previous post, Name Your Campaign (Or How Best To Highlight Catalogue Titles). Recompiling and deluxe editions are another way to have fresh summer releases.
Having a summer release can be advantageous but all factors need to be taking into consideration. Overall however, whether via new releases, reissues, catalogue campaigns — there are many opportunities for a summer blockbuster.