An Overstock warehouse in Salt Lake City. After all, CDs and records are products. Might shipping and distribution have more to do with release dates than anything else?
When we asked around yesterday, one suggested reason that records come out on Tuesdays in the United States was to maximize time in stores before Billboard magazine releases its charts — which happens every Wednesday.
But we wanted more solid answers, dammit! So we emailed Glenn Peoples at Billboard in Nashville. His initial response confirmed our earlier speculation that it has something to do with shipping the same stock to stores all over the country. Peoples also said that Neilsen SoundScan reporting periods — the basis for Billboard's album chart — run from Monday to Sunday each week. His message concluded, in part:
"In the end, I actually don’t know. I probably heard about the reasons at some point, but I don’t remember."
But with that, Mr. Peoples forwarded our request to some of his colleagues. Again, some seconding of our initial report. Then, bingo!
"Release date used to be Monday, but, when shipping product to retailers via UPS, some stores would get their shipment early in the day ... while others at the end of the route, might not get it until the end of Monday.
So, in order bring everything in line and give everyone a fair shot at "first day sales," the "street date" was moved to Tuesday. But, everyone still got product on Monday. This switch from Monday to Tuesday happened — we think — around 1990. Sorry I don't have an exact date."
A second Billboard staffer followed up:
"I think it was well before 1990, maybe it even occurred in the 1970's."
Mystery solved? Can it be that the romance of "New Music Tuesdays" — the eager anticipation of music fans; the radio and web hullabaloo — all comes down to the sweat and strain of humping product?