Official singles chart to include streaming services

Bastille The UK's most streamed track ever belongs to Bastille with Pompeii

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Songs played on streaming services like Spotify and Deezer will count towards the UK's singles chart from July, the Official Charts Company has announced.

Music streaming doubled in popularity in the UK between 2013 and 2014, from 100 million to 200 million streams a week, currently averaging 260 million.

Bastille's track Pompeii is the UK's most streamed track ever, but only made number two in the singles countdown.

Charts boss Martin Talbot said the move was "about future-proofing the charts".

The BBC's Rebecca Jones talks to Martin Talbot of the Official Charts Company

"So far this year we've seen nine tracks which have been streamed more than one million times in a week. Last year there were only two tracks that had reached that kind of level," said Mr Talbot.

"So we're seeing a huge growth, up 50% in the first half of this year."

He told the BBC the Official Charts Company had been looking into the idea for "some time" but felt now was the right moment, suggesting it echoed how they had already "evolved" over the years in response to the popularity of vinyl, cassettes, CDs and downloads.

Daft Punk Daft Punk's Get Lucky was the most streamed track last year in the UK

Streaming services Spotify, Deezer, Napster, 02 Tracks, Music Unlimited, Rara and Xbox Music - most of which charge subscribers a monthly fee to listen to unlimited music - will now provide compilers with weekly data.

The first chart to include streams will air on BBC Radio 1 on Sunday 6 July, with 100 streams of a song counting as the equivalent of one single purchased.

"This is a far greater shift in emphasis than has ever happened before," music journalist Fraser McAlpine told the BBC.

UK audio streams per quarter

"No one ever asked pop fans how many times they played the singles they took home.

"In a sense, it's a lot fairer, because the chart becomes a measurement of the genuine excitement around certain songs, and how that changes over time even after people have started to listen privately.

"It's the first time plays would count towards something larger in cultural terms, rather than just being the most-played track on a single service."

Broader range

However, it is unlikely to make much difference at the top of the chart.

Two tracks, Rather Be by Clean Bandit and Waves by Mr Probz, have passed the 1.5 million weekly streams barrier so far this year and both have also spent time at number one in the singles chart.

Daft Punk's Get Lucky was the UK's most streamed track last year and the second biggest-selling single of the year.

"By and large the most streamed tracks are the same as the most sold tracks," said Talbot.

"The changes you see are towards the bottom end of the top 10 and further down the chart."

It is artists such as Alt-J who stand to benefit. The Mercury Prize-winners are 14th most-streamed act in the UK, but their highest-charting single to date is Breezeblocks, which only reached number 75 in 2012.

'We've finally got to the point where streaming is mainstream", says Spotify

"It's nice for bands who maybe don't make much impact on the singles charts, like us," Gus Unger-Hamilton from Alt-J told Radio 4's Today programme.

"If people listen to a band's album a lot [on a streaming service] it will gradually contribute to each of those song's performance in the singles chart."

Start Quote

It is a coming of age for streaming services, an indication that the industry accepts and understands streaming is here to stay”

End Quote Martin Talbot Official Charts Company

He added: "If young people are going to think the charts are relevant to them and the music they listen to then this has got to be a step."

Mark Goodier, a former host of the Radio 1 chart show, said the countdown was still "incredibly important" for both bands and the music business.

"It's also really important for the fans, if they like One Direction or Pharrell Williams, to know where that is relative to everybody else.

"We like lists, it's very important that they're credible. [Streaming] is how the kids are choosing to consume their music, so this is a very positive move."

Analysis by Rebecca Jones, BBC arts correspondent

This change is significant, but not just because it breaks the 62-year link between buying a piece of music and its position in the charts.

It will give a more accurate representation of what people are listening to. But by incorporating only audio streams, and omitting the billions of video views on sites like YouTube, the picture will still not be complete.

The move does represent a coming of age for streaming services and a deeper acceptance of them by the music industry.

But there is little to suggest the change will actually have much impact on which song goes to the top of the charts.

In tests carried out by the Official Charts Company over the last 18 months, the inclusion of streaming services made a difference to the Number One single only once, and the top five songs remained largely the same.

Ed Sheeran and Jameela Jamil Jameela Jamil hosts the Official Chart Show on Radio 1 - seen here with former number one Ed Sheeran

Other countries including Sweden, Germany and the US have already started including streaming in their sales charts, with America's Billboard chart announcing its changes in October 2012.

The Official Charts Company said the change would reflect a wider range of music listeners.

"We looked at the records that benefitted and it was a real broad range from the Arctic Monkeys to, from Aviici to Imagine Dragons," said Mr Talbot.

YouTube video streams will not be included in the countdown, although the Official Charts Company has said it will regularly review the situation.

"A video stream is not the same as an audio stream - some people watch a video for different reasons from the reasons they'd listen to an audio track," said Mr Talbot.

'Coming of age'

Each track will have to be played for 30 seconds before it counts as one stream.

To avoid fans "gaming" the system, only 10 plays will be counted per user, per day.

A new Official Breakers Chart is also being launched to reflect the ten fastest growing new tracks according to sales and streams.

"This a significant moment in the history of the official singles chart, and as a result it's also a very significant moment in the music industry as well," said Mr Talbot.

"It is a coming of age for streaming services, an indication that the industry accepts and understands streaming is here to stay."

The first Official Singles Chart to include streams will air on BBC Radio 1 on Sunday 6 July, between 16:00-19:00 BST.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Streaming is a way to listen to music without actually owning it. So is radio. Logic therefore dictates that merely listening to a song on the radio should count as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    The charts became irrelevant years ago, being able to stream music has largely killed them off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    The current charts are irrelevant, as are most of the acts who fill them.

    How many could actually stand on stage with live musiciains are reproduce their "hit" without the benefit of all the electronics and enchancements they use?

    That's what make real music. If you can play live what you record.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    People keep saying why is this news. It is news because popular music is important to millions of people and the singles chart has always played a part in that whether you like it or not! This is the entertainment news section and that is something that the BBC covers. Of course there are more important news stories. There always are. It doesn't mean that it isn't news worthy though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    And this deserves coverage that the anti- austerity march in London didn't ..because???

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    #8 SL
    "I wonder how this will change the charts? If everyone streamed all of their music ..."

    Only a fool would choose streaming as a primary way to listen to music - even for free. The databases are always very limited, you never own anything, they can take your favourite piece of music off at any instant, you depend totally on network connectivity.
    Its for people who don't like music.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    And straight into number one is the song you've all been waiting to hear..

    Hang on, how did it get to number one if no ones heard it, let alone gone out and bought it?

    Yet another corrupt system.

    Apart from promoting new music with utter bias, the charts are irrelevant. As we choose what music to listen to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Seems fair enough for the Facebook, Twitter and X Factor generation.

    Will continue to make sure that any real talent out there will never get near the top 20 again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Andrew - I don't think you've met many teenagers then... I'm aged 17 and myself and many people I know use Spotify regularly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    "It's also really important for the fans, if they like 1D or Pharrell Williams, to know where that is relative to everybody else."

    What use to be really important for fans was credible artists creating credible music that was worth listening to - something these days that is quite rare, not the norm, precious, and in short supply since the end of the 90's.
    Today its mostly "brands" not "bands" :(

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Just because a song is being streamed does not mean anyone is actually listening to it!!"

    Just because someone buys an album doesn't mean they are going to like it. A supplier dropping off a load of copies to every shop in the old days, doesn't mean people were buying it.

    This is much more fair than anything else we've had (as long as spotify radio plays are excluded!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    how is this an issue of any importance?

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    "2. grunty
    Just because a song is being streamed does not mean anyone is actually listening to it!!"

    The same applies to a song being bought on media or downloaded.

    It'll be interesting to see the results - the charts are meant to indicate the popularity of music, so surely all ways that music is accessed should be factored in?

    Maybe they could apply weightings of some sort??

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Why's everyone putting this down? it's 2014 now.

    That said, it'll need a ironing out a little because the whole "10 plays will be counted per user, per day" thing doesn't make sense. Nobody buys the same single or album 10 times a day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Gone are the days when the chart meant anything. Taking into account streaming of tracks makes it a joke when a "play" means 30 seconds of a track has been played. Surely a track should get into the chart based on sales? Let's hope that we get some classic tracks entering the charts so that record cos understand what people want & what should be on the radio. AC/DC for Xmas - get streaming!! ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.


  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Should the number of times I listen to a record count?.... probably. I may buy a top selling record and listen to it once, or a may buy something not even in the charts and listen to it a 100 times.

    The charts are just an advertising 'stream' anyway. Buy/stream a record because you like it, not because of its bumped up position in the charts....

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Now it's all downloads and streaming... PAH!!!"

    Jack White just released an album that broke US vinyl sales records!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Such a silly idea. Any chart for anything should be based on sales, nothing else.


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