Streamed Music To Be Counted in UK Charts
Can you remember the last time you went into a music shop and physically bought a single on CD? Nowadays it all seems to be about downloading and streaming the music we want to listen to, all made easier by the likes of iTunes, YouTube and Spotify, and various other services.
The Official Charts Company (OCC) is responsible for compiling the list of the week’s best-selling 200 songs in the UK, and since 2005 have incorporated legally-downloaded songs into their list. But streaming music isn’t counted, meaning that if your music collection is represented by a queue on YouTube, the songs you most care about reaching number one in the charts are far less likely to make it up there.
Well, according to George Ergatoudis, Radio 1 and 1Xtra head of music, that could all be about to change. The songs we choose to stream could contribute to the UK Singles Charts, and maybe even make it to number one, and as soon as this coming summer.
Subscriptions to streaming services like Spotify rose to £103 million last year, an increase of almost 34% from the year before last year, with an estimated 7.4 billion songs streamed, and this number doesn’t even include music videos. It is also twice the amount of music that was streamed in 2012.
Some countries already include streaming music in their music charts, such as the US’ Billboard Hot 100, which started counting streams in 2007 and started using YouTube streams in its data as of last February, as well. However, the Hot 100 also takes in radio airplay while the UK’s chart is currently based solely on sales.
Last year was actually the fifth year in a row that singles sales in the UK broke records, up by 6% to 188.6 million, but a whopping 99.6% of these singles were downloaded. OCC Chief Executive Martin Talbot said that because of this, the UK charts will need to be brought further into the digital age, but it isn’t something that can happen overnight. “We have a lot of due diligence to do before making what would be a significant jump in the UK,” he said.
Some factors that need to be considered before using streaming data in the music charts are the types of streams that would be counted, how new or independent artists could impact the charts, and how many times a song is streamed before it is counted as a ‘sale’.
“It’s very difficult to compare [a stream with a sale] because a stream itself can be quite fleeting,” explained Tim Ingham, editor of Music Week magazine. “The consumer can use it as a preview of an artist’s work, as opposed to a download, which is more of a… monetary commitment. This is all to be worked out.”
Mr Ingham pointed out the importance of keeping the charts as relevant and up-to-date as possible, and that streaming music is the way that most young people obtain their music nowadays, so it needs to be included. “If it is not, then the public will care less and less about what is the number one.”