Here’s another one of those cases where publishers could stand to learn from the music industry. The Guardian reports that Universal and Sony Music have decided to start selling songs immediately after they go on the air.

Formerly, songs could get as much as six weeks of radio play, called “setting up” a record, before being released for sale to consumers. This would let songs debut on sales charts in high positions, by building demand. However, times have changed considerably since the days when the only way to hear music you didn’t own was over the radio.

Record label execs report finding that interest in the songs, as shown by Google and iTunes search frequency, actually peaked two weeks before the song became available for sale—meaning by the time it was on sale, potential customers were already bored with it (or had already pirated it).

Sony, which will start the "on air, on sale" policy simultaneously with Universal next month, agreed that the old approach was no longer relevant in an age where, according to a spokesman for the music major, "people want instant gratification".

Now if only the publishing industry would pay attention to this, instead of “windowing” the release of e-books for weeks or months after the print version comes out.

(Found via Ars Technica.)