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UK singles chart to include plays on streaming services

By | Published on Monday 23 June 2014

Official Charts Company

The Official Charts Company announced this morning that it will begin including streaming data in its compilation of the Official Singles Chart from next month.

On 6 Jul, the Top 40 will include streams for the first time, with 100 streams of a track deemed to be equal to one download or physical release sale. The data that counts towards the chart will be capped at ten streams of any one track by any one person in any one day, so no leaving your favourite song (/latest signing) playing on a loop for hours on end, sorry.

The services that will be providing data to the charts are Spotify, Deezer, Napster, O2 Tracks, Xbox Music, Sony Music Unlimited and Rara, all of which are members of the Entertainment Retailers Association (which owns half the Official Charts Company, though non-members do chart-return elsewhere). So no YouTube, which might seem like an oversight, but I’m sure Rara will balance it out.

The announcement comes as the average number of single track streams in a week reaches 260 million in the UK – up from 100 million in January 2013 and 200 million in January of this year. Two tracks this year – ‘Rather Be’ by Clean Bandit and ‘Waves’ by Mr Probz – have on their own topped 1.5 million UK-based streams in a week.

Official Charts Company boss Martin Talbot commented: “Audio streaming has grown at an extraordinary rate over the past year – and the time is now right to take this important step. The UK’s Official Singles Chart is culturally among the most important and influential in the world. We have been looking at this possibility for some time and now feel comfortable that our methodology is correct and that summer 2014 is the time that we should add audio streams”.

He continued: “The Official Singles Chart is (and always has been) the most trusted and definitive measure of Britain’s music tastes. Just as it has evolved through the years to reflect the most popular music in the UK, from ten-inch to seven-inch, vinyl to cassingles, CD singles to downloads, this is the latest stage of that progression – and will align the Official Singles Chart with the consumption habits of the future”.

In addition to this, record label trade body the BPI announced this morning that it is also to count streaming data toward its Certified Awards Programme – those Platinum, Gold and Silver disc things – for singles. These will use the same criteria as the OCC – so to get a platinum disc for a track with no download or physical release, it would need to clock up 60,000,000 streams in the UK.

BPI chief Geoff Taylor said: “In the same way that the Official Charts are respected around the world as the authoritative measure of UK musical popularity, so too our Certified Awards are widely-recognised as an iconic barometer of an artist’s success. As with the charts, it’s vital they continue to reflect the new ways that fans consume their favourite music. With streaming becoming ever more popular, it’s the right time to ensure this exciting new format is included in the way our awards are compiled”.

Radio 1’s Head Of Music George Ergatoudis, who revealed that this development was not far off at a Radio Academy event in February, said of the changes to the charts: “We are moving from an era of music purchasing to one dominated by music streaming and it is vital that the Official Singles Chart evolves to reflect this”.

He went on: “Radio 1’s young audience continue to download digital singles, but increasingly they’re listening to the music they love on services like Spotify, Deezer, Napster and O2 Tracks, so I strongly support the decision to include streaming data in Radio 1’s Official Chart. It future proofs the Official Singles Chart and helps to guarantee its status as the definitive weekly measure of the UK’s most popular singles”.

The UK record industry joins its counterparts in Germany, Sweden, Norway and America in counting streaming data in their main charts, with the Official Singles Chart also following the commercial radio sector’s Big Top 40, which made the switch last month.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this change affects the singles countdown, though without YouTube on board, it may be a while before we have our own ‘Harlem Shake’ moment.