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 71.

    The best music does not end up in the charts, the best brands do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Who actually knows what's at number one anymore? Last time I looked it was The Birdie Song by The Tweets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    It could go both ways.

    Often if I've got a mundane job to do I'll just use streaming to stick on a playlist of the top UK tracks. Most of it I don't really like but it's easy to put on and it doesn't get cut off for interviews/phone-ins. In this sense then it'll just boost the generic charts.

    However I often use streaming to enjoy some more obscure bands, which could get publicity with this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Strange decision! A ploy for the industry be in a better position to claim more control of streaming services, perhaps?

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    No it doesn't, it mearly means Gangnam Style was the 'most popular' song.
    Whether you like a song or not is irrelivant, you listened to it along with everyone else - the chart reflects that popularity.
    And if a single gets the roughly 5 million streams (euqal to 50k sales) then it deserves that #1 spot tbh.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    41. Jon
    . Streaming is for people who LOVE music, but refuse to pay through the nose to own an MP3.

    What utter nonsense - do you realise how little an artist receives for a stream? .. and 'Pay through the nose for an MP3' - what planet are you on? They are pence.

    All streaming does is put money in the pockets of those that create the contracts, not those that create the content.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    #26 Robert Lucien

    "Only a fool would choose streaming as a primary way to listen to music"

    I appreciate your argument but it will happen, it's evolution, like it or not.

    Young people with limited funds may never buy' a piece of music. When they are older, do you think they will suddenly start? Or will they stick to the model they are used to?

    Rightly or wrongly, convenience sells.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Does that really mean that "Gangnam style" is the greatest song since the pop charts began way back, on the back of 2 billion you tube streams. I really would despair if that was the case.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    This is absolutely ridiculous. I have been part of a number of campaigns (including the most recent Rik Mayall campaign).

    What is to stop people associated with artists, using a dynamic IP address listening to 30 seconds of a song, rebooting their router and streaming again. You can set this up to run automatically and presto... On 1 PC, you theoretically stream a song 1400 times a day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    I used to work for a record company, and the 'net has ruined the industry IMO. Where is the sense of ownership that comes from buying and owning a record? No album art, no digging out singles from years ago to play them, no sense of the experience, just press a button and out pops a file. Modern Life is Rubbish....

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    "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?"
    Quite true. A skilled studio sound engineer can electronically "tweak" someone singing flat into tune, and add power to a weak voice. That leaves the new boy wonders the simple task of stepping in time to the music.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    I suppose it depends on what the ratings are for. Why do we need to know 1mil records have been played or bought. If the music is good it will be played/bought. If it depends on it being popular because loads of others listen is that an indication of anything more than copycat behaviour?

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Que the companies with banks of computers that can stream your song multiple times a second, for a price.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    The singles chart has long been totally irrelevant. It has nothing to do with music and lots to do with who 12 year old girls fancy!

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    I agree with others that you often listen to a song on line, but you very rarely would even consider buying it. Usually these are just samples not complete, so this would make charts an even bigger joke than they already are. You could in effect have a number one hit without selling a single copy. You listen first out of interest but not to buy or even download, this really is a poor joke !

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    I think this is a very good decision. Counting plays will more accurately reflect current musical trends and this could ultimately benefit the artists.

    Intuitively, it makes more sense if the charts keep up with trends in music consumption methods as well.

    The one genre that will probably be impacted is the novelty single, and is that so great a loss?

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    Lots of people seem to say the chart is irrelevant or meaningless..
    The chart has always and is still portraying what's "Popular" this week. Music quality always has meant nothing in terms of what's popular, so the chart is doing exactly as it's always done.
    Streaming music is now really popular, so to capture what's popular overall, you have to include that method in the stats.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    How about a "band support" chart? How many actual bums wind up on seats when bands play live. Wouldn't THAT be more representative of ACTUAL support, instead of the gimme-it-for-free-online-piracy that operates today? (And it would nurture playing talent, hard work AND keep music out of the greedy hands of Simon Cowell!!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    When "Blurred Lines" and "Bound 2" were considered two of the best songs of last year I lost all hope for current music.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    47.Paul - "This could result in Babylon Zoo syndrome. Remember "Spaceman" that got to #1...people bought it after hearing 30s on a TV ad? The rest of the track was garbage..."

    Always happens though, Jennifer Rush 'Power of Love' got to #1 on the confusion over Huey Lewis' track of the same name, or was it Frankie...I forget. Either way the JR track was dirge.


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