TODAY'S TOP STORY: Sony Music has announced the appointment of a new CEO for its Australian division. This comes almost a year after the sudden exit of the major's long-time boss in the country, Denis Handlin, who was accused of overseeing a toxic corporate culture at the company. The music firm will be hoping that it can put all the bad press that followed Handlin's departure behind it, and begin a new better chapter at Sony Music Australia, once new hire Vanessa Picken takes on the CEO role in September... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Sony Music announces that Vanessa Picken will lead the reset at its Australian division
LEGAL Young Thug and Gunna comment on their arrest on RICO charges
DEALS Sony Music Publishing allies with new songs venture from Neon16
MARKETING & PR New music-centric ad platform launches in beta
ARTIST NEWS BTS announce hiatus, management insists it's not a hiatus
RELEASES Preoccupations announce Arrangements
GIGS & FESTIVALS Line-up announced for Taylor Hawkins tribute show in London
AND FINALLY... Kate Bush heading to UK number one following chart rule change
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Sony Music announces that Vanessa Picken will lead the reset at its Australian division
Sony Music has announced the appointment of a new CEO for its Australian division. This comes almost a year after the sudden exit of the major's long-time boss in the country, Denis Handlin, who was accused of overseeing a toxic corporate culture at the company. The music firm will be hoping that it can put all the bad press that followed Handlin's departure behind it, and begin a new better chapter at Sony Music Australia, once new hire Vanessa Picken takes on the CEO role in September.

Handlin had run Sony Music in Australia for decades and was a prominent figure in the Australian record industry. His sudden departure from the major coincided with a report in The Guardian in which more than 20 former employees discussed what it was like working for the company. There were specific allegations of bad conduct, including sexual harassment at work events, intimidating behaviour, alcohol abuse and the unfair treatment of women in the workplace.

None of those former employees accused Handlin himself of harassment, however many were critical of the outgoing CEO for overseeing such a toxic working environment. Subsequent media reports on the corporate culture at Handlin's Sony Music Australia expanded on those original allegations. That included a headline-grabbing report on Australian current affairs show 'Four Corners' which resulted in various Australian music industry organisations revoking honorary awards that they had previously presented to the former Sony chief.

Many critics also argued that it was widely known in the Australian music industry that the corporate culture at Handlin's Sony division was toxic, while another Guardian report noted that Sony Music's US HQ had investigated complaints to that effect as far back as 1998, albeit without taking any action. The fallout from Handlin's exit also put the spotlight on working practices across the wider Australian music industry, with allegations that harassment, abuse and misogyny were commonly found elsewhere in the sector.

That in turn prompted the launch of an independent investigation into sexual harm, sexual harassment and systematic discrimination within the Australian music industry, supported by Australian collecting societies APRA AMCOS and PPCA, record industry trade group ARIA and music industry charity Support Act, and led by consultants Alexandra Shehadie and Sam Turner.

Meanwhile, back at Sony Music, there was much speculation as to how the major's global bosses in the US would seek to press the reset button at its Australian division, overhauling working practices and demonstrating to the wider industry that significant change had occurred. Finding the right replacement for Handlin was a key part of that, which is probably why the recruitment process ended up taking a year to complete.

Confirming that Vanessa Picken had been selected to take on the challenge of running a reinvented Sony Music in Australia and New Zealand, the major's global chief Rob Stringer said yesterday: "After a careful and thorough recruitment process, we are delighted to have Vanessa join our company in such a key role".

"Her impressive background covers so many areas of the modern music business in Australia and New Zealand and her recent leadership experience in the United States adds a global understanding to those existing skills", he added. "We believe Vanessa will be a trailblazing executive leading Sony Music Australia to an exciting future".

As Stringer noted, although her previous major label experience was at EMI Australia in the latter half of the 2000s, more recently Picken has been based out of LA, running her own digital and marketing agency Comes With Fries and, since 2019, working for independent distributor and label group [PIAS].

That CV is interesting given the task ahead. The majors, and especially Sony, are increasingly seeking to form partnerships with artists who basically run their own labels, while also expanding their artist and label services businesses. Meanwhile, digital marketing and global strategies are ever more important aspects of a major record company's operations in the social media and streaming age.

So, Picken's experience of major labels, indie labels, digital marketing, and the record industry in both the US and Australia, definitely ticks lots of important boxes, beyond her being a brand new boss for a brand new era at Sony Music Australia.

Confirming her new job, Picken said: "I'm delighted to be coming home to join Sony Music Australia and New Zealand to take the company into a transformative next chapter. Our strategies will focus on music, allyship and innovation, with a global mindset".

"Sony Music has a renowned reputation for empowering its artists and creators, breaking down traditional barriers to put them at the centre of everything it does", she went on. "We will reaffirm our commitment to the discovery and development of new and emerging talent across both countries, as well as expanding the commercial and creative opportunities for our roster of artists locally and internationally".


Young Thug and Gunna comment on their arrest on RICO charges
Rapper Gunna has issued a statement about his arrest last month - and current incarceration - in relation to charges made under the US Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organisations Act. He insists that he is innocent of all the charges, adding that the way he is being portrayed by prosecutors is "ugly and untrue".

Gunna and fellow rapper Young Thug were among 28 people arrested in the US state of Georgia last month accused of involvement in a gang that allegedly committed murders, shootings and carjackings.

The arrests have put the spotlight on the so called 'Rap On Trial' campaign. Prosecutors in this case plan to use music and videos released by Gunna and Young Thug as evidence against them. Critics argue that this is a common practice when rappers are accused of crimes in the US, but such evidence is often very misleading, and its use in criminal actions usually breaches the free speech rights of the accused.

In New York State new legislation is being considered that would restrict the use of a defendant's music as evidence in criminal actions. And last week the bosses of 300 Entertainment and Atlantic Records US - both of which work with Gunna, Young Thug and the latter's Young Stoner Life label - called on the music community to support similar legal reforms across the US, initially by signing a Protect Black Art petition they have set up online.

300 Entertainment CEO Kevin Liles and Atlantic Records US COO Julie Greenwald wrote in an open letter: "Currently in Georgia, multiple artists belonging to Young Stoner Life Records – including celebrated artists like Young Thug and Gunna – are facing more than 50 allegations, including RICO charges which claim the record label is a criminal gang. The allegations heavily rely on the artists' lyrics that prosecutors claim are 'overt evidence of conspiracy'".

"Weaponising creative expression against artists is obviously wrong", they added. "This practice isn't just a violation of First Amendment protections for speech and creative expression, it punishes already marginalised communities and silences their stories of family, struggle, survival and triumph. It is a racially targeted attack, and this shameful and un-American practice must end".

In his new statement commenting on the charges he faces, Gunna writes: "Growing up from where I come from in a marginalised neighbourhood, I never dreamt my art would change my life and the lives of my loved ones. My entire life, I've seen black men, black women and black children consistently attacked, hated, murdered, berated, belittled, silenced, judged, used and held captive".

"I used my art form, my gift from God, to change my circumstance", he adds. "I worked, I honed my craft, I worked, I empowered black women in my industry, I worked, I lived in the recording studio, I worked, I lived on the road, I worked. I worked every day to show God how grateful I am for my gift, for my art, for my life and to be able to provide for my loved ones".

"For now, I don't have my freedom", he goes on. "But I am innocent. I am being falsely accused and will never stop fighting to clear my name! The picture that is being painted of me is ugly and untrue. My fans know I love to celebrate life, I love my family, I love travel, I love music, I love my fans. I have all faith that God will grant me justice for the purity in my heart and the innocence of my actions".

He then says: "As a black man in America, it seems as though my art is only acceptable when I'm a source of entertainment for the masses. My art is not allowed to stand alone as entertainment, I'm not allowed that freedom as a black man in America. It is a sad reality that slavery is still alive in America today and still affecting my people. In twelve states more than half of the prison population is black, one of those states is Georgia".

"Nothing will stop me from chasing my dreams", he concludes. "I won't stop being a good person, even if some unnamed and unknown accusers want the world to see me as a bad person. When I was free, I tried to be good and kind to the community around me and, when I am released, I will do the same thing all over again".

Both Gunna and Young Thug have been in jail since their arrests last month and have so far been denied bail. That meant they couldn't perform their planned set at the Summer Jam event staged by New York radio station Hot 97 last weekend. However, a short video was screened instead, with the likes of DJ Khaled, Polo G and G Herbo expressing their support for the two rappers, before a recorded statement from Young Thug himself was played.

He told the Summer Jam audience: "I just want to say thank you to all of my friends and my family for coming out and supporting us … your support during this time means a lot to us. You know, this isn't just about me or YSL. I always use my music as a form of artistic expression, and now I see that black artists and rappers don't have that, you know, freedom. Everybody please sign the 'Protect Black Art' petition and keep praying for us. I love you all".


Sony Music Publishing allies with new songs venture from Neon16
Sony Music Publishing Latin has announced a new partnership with Neon16 - the media and entertainment company run by Lex Borrero and producer Tainy - which also involves one-time Sony Music boss Tommy Mottola, who formed a joint venture with Borrero last year.

The alliance will see the Sony publisher support Neon16's new music publishing company 22 Publishing, and also collaborate with its new partner to "create key opportunities for the company's roster across music, film, and television".

Says Borrero of his new music publishing venture: "Our goal is to create a platform for producers and songwriters to build their brand and their business to go beyond the music. 22 will go beyond servicing their music and catalogue, providing our writers with an opportunity to develop their limitless potential".

Meanwhile, the CEO of Latin America and US Latin at Sony Music Publishing, Jorge Mejia, adds: "Tainy and Lex Borrero are one of the most formidable and visionary teams in music today. Our partnership with Neon16 and Tommy Mottola adds an incredible new dimension to our long-term relationship with them and will be a vehicle for nurturing the newest and most exciting talent for years to come".

22 Publishing's roster includes: Albert Hype, Jota Rosa, Gaby Morales, Ivanni Rodriguez, Rozo, Jodosky and Dylan Fuentes.


New music-centric ad platform launches in beta
A new music-centric digital advertising tool has announced a beta test pilot involving The Independent news site and various music companies.

Called Into-It, the new service will encourage consumers to identify the genres and artists they like via a Chrome browser extension. Participating media will then target music ads based on that information, allowing music companies to buy ads with said media in a way that targets the right kinds of fans.

Meanwhile, music fans will be able to more directly curate what ads they see when browsing participating sites, rather than any ad targeting being driven by usage data gathered by the big tech platforms.

The pilot will involve beta-testers from the US and UK music, advertising and tech sectors, with major and indie labels, recently re-opened London venue Koko and merch company Terrible among those posting ads. Those ads will then appear on The Independent's website, as well as some other sites involved in the pilot scheme.

The company behind the new service has been founded by Lee Henshaw, who previously launched digital PR agency Way To Blue and programmatic advertising agency Silence Media.

He says: "At Into-it, we're on a mission to give American and British music fans the opportunity to curate their online advertising experience by simply letting us know the genres and the artists they're into. This beta test allows us to showcase our technology to the industry before our commercial launch in the autumn".

Meanwhile, Oli Wheatley, Trading Director at The Independent, adds: "We are looking forward to being part of Into-It's beta test. At The Independent, we are absolutely committed to offering value and effectiveness through innovation to our customers and improving user experience wherever possible - so we're excited to see what this partnership brings".

Among the labels taking part are Full Time Hobby, whose founder Nigel Adams says: "Into-it is a game-changer for the music industry because it gives us access to a data set powered by user intention, helping us build direct relationships with fans".


CMU:DIY: Artist:Entrepreneur Days in Hull and Southampton 
Don't forget that there are two in-person editions of the Artist:Entrepreneur Day coming up in the next few weeks - one in Hull and one in Southampton. This is the artist-led educational programme from the Featured Artists Coalition and CMU:DIY.

Each edition sees three FAC artist entrepreneurs open up their individual artist businesses, explaining how they make money from their music-making. CMU's Chris Cooke is also on hand to present a series of A:E Guides on the different music revenues, while a team of industry experts offer practical advice and insights for how artists can grow their own artist businesses.

The Hull edition of A:E Day takes place at Social on Saturday 25 Jun from 11am to 4pm, with artist entrepreneurs Elle Chante, Stewart Baxter (LIFE) and Katie Spencer. Click here for information or to access free tickets.

The Southampton edition takes place at The Stage Door on Saturday 2 Jul from 11am to 4pm, with artist entrepreneurs WREN, Russell Marsden (Band Of Skulls) and Benny Bizzie. Click here for information or to access free tickets.

As well as attending in person, people can also opt to tune in to a livestream of each event.

BTS announce hiatus, management insists it's not a hiatus
BTS are "going through a rough patch right now" and, as a result, are "going on a hiatus" in order to allow the group's members to develop as solo artists and "find our identity". But, they promise, they will definitely "return someday even more mature".

All very interesting statements, but none of which should be taken to mean that BTS are now on hiatus or aren't working together. Or at least that's according to their management company Hybe.

The group discussed their upcoming plans in an hour-long video yesterday which was marking the anniversary of the release of their debut album in June 2013. The conversation also followed the release of their latest compilation 'Proof' on Friday.

Initially lighthearted, the chat - broadcast on YouTube in Korean with English subtitles - took a more sombre tone about 20 minutes in, as the band's Suga suddenly announced "we're going on a hiatus now" - although the subtitles were later changed to read "temporary break" rather than "hiatus".

After some discussion about whether they should discuss these plans, Suga told his bandmates "we have to talk about the direction we're taking".

And so, RM began: "Gathering like this today and shooting content [it's made me think] 'I'm glad we're BTS' [and] 'what would I do if we weren't BTS?' It made me think I'm happy just being together. I started music and became BTS because I had a message for the world".

However, he added, of late it's been harder for him to identify what message he is actually trying to communicate via the band. Things started to change shorty before the pandemic hit, he said. Although they continued to release new music during that period, as they worked on and promoted those tracks, he "realised the group has definitely changed".

"We have to accept that we've changed", he went on. "For me it was like the group BTS was within my grasp until [2020 singles] 'On' and 'Dynamite', but after [2021's] 'Butter' and 'Permission To Dance', I didn't know what kind of group we were anymore".

Both RM and Suga then spoke about the difficultly they now face when writing lyrics for the band's songs. "Whenever I write lyrics and songs it's really important what kind of story and message I want to give out, but it was like that was gone now", RM explained. "I don't know what kind of story I should tell now".

"It was always painful trying to squeeze out ideas", Suga added. "But doing that now compared to seven or eight years ago feels completely different. Back then I had something to say, I just lacked the skills. Now I don't have anything to say. I don't know what to say".

"I've always thought that BTS was different from other groups", RM went on. "But the problem with K-pop and the whole 'idol' system is that they don't give you time to mature. You have to keep producing music and keep doing something".

"There's just no time for me to think", he said. "I have to be aware of who I am and what kind of group BTS is … The group would go on fine if I just did the work I was assigned, but I kept feeling like I was trapped inside myself. I wanted to shed that off for a little bit and leave myself alone to think about what I should be doing now, but the world wouldn't let me be".

He then added that it wasn't just him feeling this way, and that all seven members of the band were "exhausted". Although, "it feels so wrong to even say that we're exhausted", he admitted, because he worries that talking in this way means he and his bandmates are letting down the fanbase.

Though other members countered that they felt that fans would support them, with Jimin adding: "We can't help but think of our fans no matter what - we want to be the kind of artists that are remembered by our fans. I think now finally we're starting to think about what kind of artists we each want to be remembered [as]. I think that's why we're going through a rough patch right now, we're trying to find our identity and that's an exhausting and long process".

He then revealed that, actually, behind the scenes, the band's members have already been spending more time on other projects, which is one of the reasons why getting together for this video felt "so fun". He added: "There's already so much to talk about today. And if we return after a long time, there's going to be so much more to talk about then".

But, the question here is, if the band's members are going to be spending more time on projects outside of the group before coming back together at some point, how 'long' is "a long time"?

Because throughout this incredibly candid chat, it felt like the group were very much talking about having a significant break from each other. So much so that after the discussion was broadcast, the share price of the aforementioned Hybe fell by 27.5% - knocking more than $1.7 billion off its value. Although it later rebounded.

In a statement after the video came out, Hybe insisted that "BTS are not taking a hiatus", but confirmed that "members will be focusing more on solo projects at this time".

This is not the first time that the group have announced that they will take a break. They took a short amount of time off in 2019 and then, in December last year, they announced that they were taking an "extended period of rest". That lasted less than three months, though.

So it is possible that when BTS talk about talking a "long time" to reset and mature, they're not actually talking about that long a time.

There is, of course, another reason why the band may be taking the decision to focus on their solo work right now - that being the continued issue of military service obligations in South Korea.

This has been a hotly debated topic in the country for a number of years now. Under South Korean law, all able-bodied men must begin serving around two years in the military at some point between the ages of eighteen and 28. There are formal exemptions for athletes and classical musicians with an international following, but nothing for pop acts.

The oldest member of the group, Jin, who is 29, has so far avoided conscription thanks to a change in the law that allowed some pop artists (there were complaints that the amendment was so specific that it could only apply to members of BTS) to defer the start of their military service until the age of 30.

The problem now is that Jin will turn 30 in December this year and the issue still has not gone away. Many oppose any new full-on exemptions for K-pop stars, and that opposition is seemingly and understandably particularly strong among South Korean men in their 20s who have served their time or are preparing to.

While political discussions are ongoing about further amendments to the law, there appears to be a general feeling that the necessary exemption will not be passed by the country's parliament, meaning that all members of BTS will eventually have to serve time in the military.

This system has scuppered the careers of many K-pop boybands over the years, despite efforts to either keep groups going with fewer members, or allow some members to embark on solo careers while others are doing their military service.

The problem is, it can take several years to get all members of a group through that military service, especially if they're not all doing it concurrently. Many acts find that, by the time they've all done it, their fans have moved on. Arguably, it was older K-pop outfits waning as a result of these military service obligations that gave BTS the opportunity to become South Korea's top boyband. Whether they can hold that position now remains to be seen.

While the members of BTS have all released solo material during their time in the group, J-Hope will be the first to go all in during this hiatus (or whatever it is). His debut solo album is set for release in July and he will play a headline set at the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago later that month, making him the first South Korean artist to headline a major US music festival.

You can watch this very interesting discussion between the members of BTS on YouTube here.


Preoccupations announce Arrangements
Preoccupations have announced details of their fourth album, 'Arrangements', which will be released later this year. They've also shared first single 'Ricochet'.

The band's first album since 2018's 'Material', they began work on the new record in 2019. The pandemic then put a stop to proceedings, until guitarist and synth player Monty Munro managed to set up a studio in his parents' house, where he ended up locking down.

From there, he worked remotely with vocalist and bassist Matt Flegel and guitarist Danny Christiansen, sending tracks back and forth, before drummer Mike Wallace was eventually able to get into a studio to add his parts. So, a fairly slow and laborious process. Also, Munro "obsessively" doubled all his keyboard parts on guitar and vice versa, then sampled those recordings and cut them up to make new parts, which also sounds quite time consuming.

Anyway, the album is done now, and will finally be out on 19 Sep. You should get ready for it to be dark too. "The lyrics are pretty conspicuous and self explanatory on this one", says Flegel", but it's basically about the world blowing up and no one giving a shit".

Listen to 'Ricochet' here.


Line-up announced for Taylor Hawkins tribute show in London
The initial line-up for the London tribute concert for Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins has been announced.

Joining Foo Fighters for the show will be Liam Gallagher, Queen's Brian May and Roger Taylor, Mark Ronson, Josh Homme, Chrissie Hynde, Police drummer Stewart Copeland, Supergrass, Rush's Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, Wolfgang Van Halen, The Darkness drummer Rufus Taylor, and drumming legend Omar Hakim.

Also taking part will be Jane's Addiction bass player Chris Chaney - who played with Hawkins in Alanis Morissette's original live band, as well as Taylor Hawkins And The Coattail Riders and supergroup NHC - and the members of Hawkins' hard rock covers band Chevy Metal.

Comedian Dave Chappelle is also set to make an appearance on stage. Further acts are still to be announced.

The show is set to take place at Wembley Stadium in London on 3 Sep. Tickets will go on sale this Friday at 9am.

The line-up for a separate tribute show in LA is set to be announced later today.


Kate Bush heading to UK number one following chart rule change
Kate Bush's 'Running Up That Hill' looks like it will finally hit number one in the UK singles chart this weekend after the Official Charts Company changed the rules about how streams of the song are counted. Which might make the whole thing seem like a bit of a farce, but whatever. There is some justification.

'Running Up That Hill' has, of course, been rising up the charts in recent weeks thanks to being featured prominently in the latest series of 'Stranger Things' on Netflix. It's not just in the UK, the 1985 track has been hitting top tens around the world. But it's here in the UK where we've been expecting the track to reach the top spot on the back of all the 'Stranger Things' hype.

However, so far it has been unable to knock 'As It Was' by Harry Styles off its perch atop the main UK singles chart, despite it being streamed far more than Styles's song. Given the Bush track has been getting so many more streams - and is also ahead of 'As It Was' in the OCC's Sales Chart, which aggregates all the non-streaming consumption that is also counted in the main chart - clearly 'Running Up That Hill' should be the overall number one. So why isn't it?

Well, it's all down to how the OCC treats older songs. For a new song, it takes 100 premium streams or 600 ad-funded streams to have one sale counted in the main singles chart, which aggregates data from streaming services, download stores, and the sale of physical products.

However, if those rules were applied to all songs being streamed in any one week, then a handful of perennially popular tracks would be forever clogging up the chart. And given one key reason for even having a weekly chart is the marketing boost a decent chart ranking can give to new releases, well, having a Top 20 always dominated by the same older tracks wouldn't be ideal.

That wasn't a problem in the pre-streaming age, of course, because the chart was tracking what music was bought rather than what music was played. So even if people were still playing older tracks again and again, the chart was blissfully unaware of and therefore didn't track that consumption. And that was the case in the short-lived download era as well as in the pre-digital age.

It is true that, with iTunes, if a very old track suddenly became of interest again - for one reason or another - resulting in a surge of people downloading said track, it could suddenly reappear towards the top of the chart. Though that reappearance was usually short-lived, as the surge in new sales ended. And, of course, in pre-digital even that didn't usually happen.

Because, pre-digital, if a track like 'Running Up That Hill' suddenly became of interest again on the back of a prominent sync, people couldn't just rush out and buy it as a single, because the label would have long ago stopped pressing and distributing it.

You might have seen a short-lived surge in sales of the album on which the track appeared, as that might still be available in bigger record shops, but the new interest would be unlikely to impact on the singles chart, unless that new interest was sufficient enough - and anticipated enough - that the label who owned the recording instigated a full-on re-release.

So, the nature of streaming created various challenges for the music industry's chart compilers. First, they needed complicated metrics for merging consumption data with sales data in order to create a single chart that covered all forms of consumption.

But they also needed to consider how to stop a small number of hugely popular tracks constantly dominating the top 20, resulting in people becoming bored with and uninterested in the industry's weekly charts. If you can imagine such a thing happening.

It was with all that in mind that the OCC introduced something called 'accelerated decline' - a set of rules which apply on tracks that have been on the chart for more than nine weeks and which have experienced three consecutive weeks of decline at some point.

For them, different ratios are used to equate streams to sales, called the Accelerated Chart Ratios. Under that system the number of streams required to score a sale for chart purposes are doubled - so one sale is equal to 200 premium streams or 1200 ad-funded streams.

This is why The Killers' 'Mr Brightside' has been in the top 100 pretty consistently for the last decade, but hasn't much bothered the top 40 in that time. Which is surely a good thing, right?

So, the accelerated decline rules keeps things fresh, and ensure that tracks (usually) rise up and down the charts in a fashion similar to that of the good old physical days.

However, there are always going to be issues with any chart compiling system once you are dealing with the complexities of including consumption data from streaming services. And the sudden popularity of 'Running Up That Hill' - and the accompanying flurry of "hey, who knew young people would like an old pop song?!" news stories - has put the 'accelerated decline' rule in the spotlight.

It has to be said, Bush herself seems more than happy that so many younger people are discovering her old track via a TV show she also happens to love, and doesn't seem especially aggrieved that chart rules are biased against her. And you could say that her label should be happy that - thanks to the way streaming works - those young people can easily find and listen to the track in a way that suddenly generates a load of new royalties with minimum effort on its part.

But, given how much 'Running Up That Hill' is being played on the streaming services just now, some reckon that the 'accelerated decline' rule is damaging the credibility of the chart, which - after all - many people assume exists to primarily identify the most popular song of the moment.

And right now that is 'Running Up That Hill', which has enjoyed enough streams to get the track to number eight and then, last week, to number two on the overall singles chart, despite it needing to score twice as many streams for a sale to be counted as all the newer tracks appearing around it - not least 'As It Was'.

Aware of all that, the OCC's Chart Supervisory Committee - which oversees the charts to make sure they're all cool and fun and definitely not irrelevant - has now decided to not apply the accelerated decline rule to 'Running Up That Hill' this week.

In doing so, it has allowed the song to start, er, running up that hill to the number one position. Unshackled, it is far outselling (or 'outselling') Styles's track.

This is not entirely unprecedented, it's worth noting. There is already a system in place to apply 'normal' streaming counts to an older song if it sees sales (or 'sales') increase by 25% week-on-week. Although that rule is specifically designed for tracks released in the last three years. 'Running Up That Hill' was released in 1985 remember. Which, fans of maths will hopefully confirm, was somewhat more than three years ago.

There is also a further exception to the rule that can be applied. Say the OCC official regulations: "In exceptional circumstances, where a track is being scheduled for promotion, a label may elect to reset a track to [the standard streaming to sales ratio]".

So that's all great. Except, it goes on, "this manual reset is limited to two tracks per artist album, only where the track in question is outside the top 100 and subject to one week's notice being given from the releasing label that they wish to implement a manual reset. Manual reset shall be strictly subject to Official Charts and/or CSC approval".

But rules are meant to be broken, right? Otherwise what's the point? And so, the accelerated decline rule will not be applied to 'Running Up That Hill' despite it already being in the top ten and without any notice of reset being given in advance of the track suddenly becoming popular again.

Why would the OCC allow that? Well these are exceptional exceptional circumstances. It seems that the sudden boost in the popularity of 'Running Up That Hill' brought on by 'Stranger Things' caught everyone by surprise. And after everyone got over that surprise, they were then surprised that the song had failed to knock Harry Styles off number one. So, really, the OCC is basically breaking its own rules to fulfil everyone's expectations. A common sense solution!

Still, if you've read this far, it seems quite possible that you only did so out of anger, and you're now fuming about how streaming has made a mockery of the whole chart system. After all, when it was all based on physical sales, all tracks were treated equally. Now there are all sorts of complicated calculations that need to be made which inevitably skew for and against different tracks, plus those rules can seemingly be changed on a whim.

Well, to you I say this: Let's just pretend that we're back in the age of only physical media and something causes an old song to suddenly become incredibly popular. So much so that the label decides it's worthwhile actually re-releasing the song as a single. And so they quickly get to business pressing up some new discs and rushing them out to record shops.

For a while, everyone would know that the song was popular again, but it wouldn't be able to get the number one placing that everyone knew it deserved until the label had managed to press up and distribute those new singles. So why not just pretend that's what's happened here?

Actually, that situation isn't as far-fetched as it might seem. In 1990, the inclusion of the Righteous Brothers song 'Unchained Melody' in the film 'Ghost' prompted thousands of requests to radio stations in the US to play the 1965 recording. That new interest ultimately resulted in both a re-release and re-record of the track, the former getting the song to number one in the UK chart.

Also, if you think all songs were really equal in the physical era, you probably need to have a little think about your life and how it's going. Just let Kate Bush have her moment, you scoundrel. If she gets to number one, it'll be the first time she's done so since 1978.


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column. (except press releases, see below)
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights consultancy unit and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited. (except press releases, see below)
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU Insights and CMU:DIY. or call 020 7099 9060
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
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